The term ‘digital detox’ is buzzing around more than ever. Why? Perhaps because our lives are becoming increasingly impossible to detangle from technology. From our phones and laptops, social media to Netflix – we’re constantly being surrounded by screens vying for our attention.

Naturally, this means we’re spending more time on devices than ever before. The average Australian spending four hours on digital devices daily! While nobody’s disputing the countless benefits technology brings — new levels of exposure do carry negative implications for our mental health, physical health, relationships and overall quality of life. One key issue is that many of us find it challenging to cut back on our screen time, even when it is causing problems. Enter: a digital detox.

Our Digital World: Pros and Cons

As the philosphy of yoga reminds us time and time again: if you’re not feeling connected to yourself, no amount of external connection will (at least directly) remedy this. This is the paradox within our ‘hyper connected’ world. We often forget that there’s one main connection for us to nourish – an internal one, which determines the quality of every other connection.

Technology and connectivity has brought countless benefits to our societies; connecting us across different corners of the globe in a way that’s unprecedented in human history. Imagine sitting around waiting for carrier pigeons to deliver your urgent message! (Fun fact: the last Police Carrier Pigeon Service was only disbanded in 2006!)

The benefits have also been profound for activist organisations seeking to raise awareness of issues worldwide, or build fundraising platforms online. On an individual level, social media platforms have also been  key in distributing news of lesser reported global conflicts. Without experiences shared by the individuals on such platforms, many stories of injustices would be suppressed.

But there are negatives. One study reflected where the level of social media addiction increased, life satisfaction and happiness levels decreased. Another study conducted by the World Happiness Report showed that adolescent girls spending 5 or more hours on social media daily, were three times more likely to be depressed than non-users. Your cases might not be as severe as social media addiction, but perhaps there are ways we could all benefit from more mindfully engaging with technology.

Blurred (digital) Lines

Research reflects that higher connectivity often means we’re more likely to blur boundaries of work and leisure time. Have you ever been sucked into your emails?

A 2017 study by the University of Zurich found employees who didn’t maintain clear boundaries between work and free time were less likely to participate in relaxing activities. They were therefore more exhausted, and experienced an overall lower sense of well-being.

“Employees who integrated work into their non-work life reported being more exhausted because they recovered less.” – Wepfer

An important thing to remember also is that we don’t yet know what effects constant connectivity is having on us. It’s a relatively new phenomena after all, so there simply hasn’t yet been enough time for thorough research.  So, with much to discover – why not err on the side of caution for the sake of our future selves?


A Digital Detox in 2024

As Sofia Epstein explores, attempting a total digital detox a decade ago would have been a breeze, compared to now. Technology is everywhere. We pay with our phones, work on our laptops, and communicate through apps. Since the pandemic, our digital connection has intensified even further. Work meetings moved to Zoom calls, and family catch-ups became group chats. Detoxing now isn’t just about cutting down Angry Birds time  – it could also mean putting relationships on hold!

‘Digital mindfulness may be more practical for some people, in lieu of a full detox: less worry about cutting tech out entirely, and more focus on being intentional with its use.’ – Amber Case

As we become increasingly interdependent on technology, doing a total digital detox may no longer always be a viable goal. But there’s still lots we can do. Here are some of our tips to lessen tech’s hold, without forcing us to totally disconnect.

Our tips for a Digital Detox

  • We get it, during the week you’re picking up kids, on work calls and measuring your steps. But why not try disconnecting from all devices for a weekend? Prepare in advance by letting others know, and clearing out your obligations. You’ve got this!
  • Instead of texting someone next time you are wanting to connect, give them a call and organise to meet up.
  • When you do actually meet up with someone, try switching your phone off and keeping it off the whole time you are together.
  • Create sacred space each morning where you meditate, or drink your tea or coffee, or practice yoga before looking at any devices.
  • Find the stats in your phone that tell you what your screen time is. Keep an eye on it, observing patterns alongside your moods and general state of wellbeing. Simply having this information will helps  to become more aware of unconscious habits.
  • Try putting your phone in ‘Do not disturb’ mode from 8pm until 8am to give yourself a full break. Play with the settings to work for you. For example, on iPhones you can add in exceptions, so that your family members can always contact you.
  • Switch of broadband and wifi routers at night, when not in use.
  • Go camping! Oftentimes there won’t be reception, so nature does the job for you!

If overusing tech does feel like an issue for you, Lifeline offer even more infomation and support, here. Another option: visit us! While connecting in person is always our priority – our silent meditation retreats are specifically totally tech-free.

*Editors note: this article was written in 2018, but we’ve updated it. It’s perhaps even more relevant today!