Digital detox

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A digital detox refers to a period of time during which a person voluntarily refrains from using digital devices such as smartphones or computers and social media platforms. [1][2] It is regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress, focus on real-life social interaction, and connect with nature in the physical world. Claimed benefits include increased mindfulness, decreased anxiety, and an overall sense of appreciation for one's environment.[3] [4]

The motivations behind digital detoxing vary. In some cases, the motivation is a negative emotional response to technology usage, such as dissatisfaction or disappointment with the technology. In other cases, users see the technology as a distraction that consumes time and energy, making them want to take back control over their everyday lives. Some people have moral, ethical, or political reasons to refrain from technology usage.[5] Furthermore, some are motivated to disconnect for a period of time, because of a concern about developing addictive behavior that some identify as Internet addiction disorder.[6] It's said that around 59% of smartphone users check their account 5 minutes prior to going to bed and within 30 minutes after waking up. [7]

Some studies suggest limiting online connectivity may lead to an improved mood: In one study in Mind, 98% of those interviewed said their mood improved after putting down their phones to spend time outside. In the study, interviewees said they felt a change from feeling depressed, stressed, and anxious to become more calm and balanced.[8] Constant engagement with digital connecting devices at the workplace is said to lead to increased stress levels and reduce productivity. [9] Certain characteristics of the technology make it more difficult to distinguish work from leisure. Moreover, being continually connected increases the number of interruptions at work. Allowing employees to disconnect for a part of the day in order to truly focus on their work without disturbance from colleagues, is claimed to be beneficial to productivity and to the work environment. [9]

In certain cultures, constant work is encouraged and taking breaks are sometimes even discouraged. This is due to the idea that a break equals a lack of productivity. In the Indian culture, this is extremely prevalent; there have even been studies to back up these ideas. It's said that more than half of Indians check their work and social emails constantly. Even while vacationing, about 30% admitted that they had an irresistible urge to check and post on social media. There is also a significant estimated 30% difference between people being willing to leave their laptops at home compared to people being willing to leave their smartphones at home. It's admitted that if work wasn't a factor, a lot of Indians wouldn't constantly be on their devices and would stay unplugged. [10]

The connecting devices’ multitasking character has a serious impact on the user's learning ability. Multitasking implies operating on a surface level, which only involves the short-time memory.[11] Using multiple connecting devices as learning platforms is therefore not beneficial. A reduction of information choices enables the brain to focus more on the quality of the information rather than the hastiness of it.[12]

Social media detoxification[edit]


Social media detoxification, or more commonly referred to as "non-use of social media" in academic research, is the period of time during which individuals voluntarily stay away from social media.[13] It falls under the umbrella of Digital detox, with a focus specifically on unplugging from social media. In recent times, it has become an increasingly relevant phenomenon with anyone from celebrities such as Kanye West and Ed Sheeran,[14] to regular social media users going on this detox. For example, a study conducted in 2013 found that more than half of Facebook's American population were non-users.[15] It is a conscious effort made by users to fight against social media addiction. [16]

This phenomenon is focused on a type of non-users known as social media rejectors[17] who once used social media but have now voluntarily given it up for various reasons. By unplugging from social media, these rejectors hope to re-embrace the tangible and make more meaningful connections. [18]


There has been a wide array of viewpoints with regards to the pros and cons of a social media detox. Research in social media use and non-use has also provided academic insight to the reasons that individuals cite for going on a social media detox. Some of these include concerns over privacy and data misuse, productivity, addiction, and social, professional or institutional pressures.[19][20]

Non-use is not a clear-cut binary distinction in opposition to using, but these rejectors do demonstrate a desire for selective and reversible disconnection.[21] Social media has become so interwoven into daily life, that going off social media is a conscious lifestyle choice.[22]

In the digital age, social media plays a vital role in building social capital, maintaining connections,[23] and impression management.[24] Some scholars even argue that it is important for individuals to have certain levels of distraction for life balance and to achieve a common state of body and mind.[25] Some argue that social media is necessary, and should not be completely cut out; rather, they argue that moderation, not rejection or non-use, is critical.[26]

Many digital products, such as Facebook, Pintrest and Snapchat are designed to encourage constant use, with Likes, notifications and infinite scrolling serving as other triggers prompting users to return to the app and continue to spend time on it.[27] Social platforms are beginning to evolve to incorporate this feedback, for example, Instagram is running a trial removing likes to remove pressure on users.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "digital detox | Definition of digital detox in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries | English. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  2. ^ Syvertsen, Trine; Enli, Gunn (2019-05-16). "Digital detox: Media resistance and the promise of authenticity". Convergence: 1354856519847325. doi:10.1177/1354856519847325. ISSN 1354-8565.
  3. ^ "Here's One Big Sign It's Time To Reevaluate Your Relationship With Your Phone". HuffPost. 2014-07-16. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  4. ^ Booth, Frances. "How To Do A Digital Detox". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  5. ^ Adam, Fish (2017). "Technology Retreats and the Politics of Social Media" (PDF). tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society. 15: 355–369.
  6. ^ Morrison, S., & Gomez, R. (2014). "Pushback: The Growth of Expressions of Resistance to Constant Online Connectivity" (PDF). In iConference 2014 Proceedings (p. 1-15).
  7. ^ "Smartphone owners in India are increasingly obsessed with their devices: Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey 2015". Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  8. ^ "How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing? | Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing". Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  9. ^ a b Ayyagari, Ramakrishna; Grover, Varun; Purvis, Russell (2011). "Technostress: Technological Antecedents and Implications". MIS Quarterly. 35 (4): 831–858. doi:10.2307/41409963. JSTOR 41409963.
  10. ^ "Time for Digital Detox - PCQuest". PCQuest. 2018-01-10. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  11. ^ Smith, Julia Llewellyn (2013-12-28). "Switch off – it's time for your digital detox". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  12. ^ "Time for a digital detox? - Tara Brabazon - Fast Capitalism 9.1". Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  13. ^ Baumer, E. P., Guha, S., Quan, E., Mimno, D., & Gay, G. K. (2015). "Missing photos, suffering withdrawal, or finding freedom? How experiences of social media non-use influence the likelihood of reversion". Social Media+Society. 1 (2): 205630511561485. doi:10.1177/2056305115614851.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  14. ^ "15 Stars Who've Quit Social Media … and How Long They've Stayed Away". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  15. ^ Rainie, L., Smith, A., & Duggan, M. (2013). "Coming and Going on Facebook". Retrieved 2018-04-10.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Portwood-Stacer, L. (2012). "How we talk about media refusal, part 1: Addiction". Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  17. ^ Wyatt, S. M., Oudshoorn, N., & Pinch, T. (2013). "Non-users also matter: The construction of users and non-users of the Internet". Now Users Matter: The Co-construction of Users and Technology: 67–79.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  18. ^ Jurgenson N. (2013). "The Disconnectionists". The New Inquiry. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  19. ^ Baumer, E. P. S., Adams, P., Khovanskaya, V. D., Liao, T. C., Smith, M. E., Schwanda Sosik, V., & Williams, K. (2013). Limiting, leaving, and (re) lapsing: An exploration of Facebook non-use practices and experiences. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. New York, NY: ACM. pp. 3257–3266.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ "Quit Social Media, Dr. Cal Newport". TEDxTrysons. 2016-09-19. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  21. ^ Mainwaring, S. D., Chang, M. F., & Anderson, K. (2004). Infrastructures and their discontents: Implications for ubicomp. In Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag. pp. 418–432.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ "New Digital Practices of Decentralization–Interview with Geert Lovink". 2017-09-19. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  23. ^ Baumer, E. P., Guha, S., Quan, E., Mimno, D., & Gay, G. K. (2015). "Missing photos, suffering withdrawal, or finding freedom? How experiences of social media non-use influence the likelihood of reversion". Social Media+Society. 1 (2): 205630511561485. doi:10.1177/2056305115614851.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  24. ^ Donath, J., & Boyd, d. (2015). "Public displays of connection". SBT Technology Journal. 22 (4): 71–82. doi:10.1023/ maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  25. ^ "The aesthetics of dispersed attention: An interview with German media theorist Petra Löffler". NECSUS. 2013-11-08. Retrieved 2018-04-02.
  26. ^ "Should you quit Facebook? The pros and cons of staying connected on social media". ABC News AUS. 2017-01-04. Retrieved 2018-04-02.
  27. ^ Sam, Silvia Li (2016-08-16). "Nir Eyal: The Psychology of Building Addictive Products". Medium. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  28. ^ "Instagram hides likes count 'to remove pressure'". 2019-07-18. Retrieved 2019-08-30.