How To Commit To A #DigitalDetox

By Kelly Love |

featured image: How To Commit To A #DigitalDetox

For nearly everyone across the world, 2020 has been the most surprising, challenging, disruptive, and transformational year of our lives. It’s also been a year that’s forced even the most screen-conscious to rely heavily on computers, tablets, iPhones, and other devices—not just for basic needs like ordering groceries and supplies and connecting with loved ones, but for attending school, running businesses/doing our jobs, and even celebrating holidays. Just how much more time are we spending in front of our devices? Research1 shows that children are spending over 6 hours a day on a screen which has increased 500%! While average adults screen time has jumped from 4 hours a day pre-pandemic to 6+ hours a day (and much more for those of us working/tutoring children from home), according to a recent survey conducted by One Poll2. Not to mention, people are reporting a number of unpleasant physical, mental, and emotional side effects.

This is why our Branch Basics team is committing to a different type of detox cleanse this year: a #digitaldetox, in which we take simple steps to cut down our individual and collective screen time to a more normal, healthy, and functional level...and we invite you to join us! Now, if the idea of a digital detox makes you either super resistant or totally excited, both reactions are completely normal...and really good indicators that you need this. 

But, how do we honestly commit to cutting back on screen time when it’s become such an essential (albeit perhaps unwanted) part of our lives and livelihoods? Just like we would with a detox cleanse, we make it doable by breaking it up into small and manageable pieces. 

Commit first to your why

What is the main factor that motivates any of us to make big changes? It’s inspiration that comes from education, experience, and empowerment. For the purposes of this endeavor, let’s get inspired by exploring some of the health benefits of spending less time on our devices:

  • Reduced EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure

EMF exposure has been connected to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, genetic damage, nervous system damage, oxidative stress, and infertility.3

  • Healthier vision

Excessive screen time has been linked to a variety of eye health ailments including an increased risk of macular degeneration in adults and myopia in children4 and digital eye strain in adults.

  • Reduced aches and pains

Also known as “screen aches”—over 50% of participants in the One Poll listed above reported a variety of aches and pains associated with excessive screen time.

  • Improved mental and emotional well-being for adults and children

A large body of research has linked increased screen and social media time with an increased risk of depression, suicide5, and anxiety6 in adults and teens (especially women) and behavioral7  and developmental issues8 in children.

  • Weight-loss

Research has shown a connection between excessive screen time and an increased risk of weight gain, obesity, and insulin resistance in adults9 and children.10

  • Improved sleep

In addition to the stimulating effects of television, gaming, etc. the blue light emitted from devices has been proven to disrupt our natural sleep cycle by suppressing secretion of melatonin (your body’s master sleep hormone)11, contributing to or causing issues such as insomnia. 

  • Increased focus

It should come as no surprise that too much screen time has been linked to an increased risk of attention disorders. However, most of us underestimate the risk which, research has shown can be as much as double for children and youth.12

  • Greater peace of mind

If we’re being honest, we all feel happier and less agitated when we spend time away from our screens. And research has shown this is extremely important to teenagers13, whose happiness levels greatly increase as they decrease their time on digital devices and media.

Set realistic goals

After reading all that research (and there’s plenty more!) it’s tempting to want to chuck your devices out the window (especially if you’re a parent). However, given that most of us are reliant on our computers, phones, etc. for the foreseeable future...the surest way to fail at a #digitaldetox in 2021 is to over-commit to reducing screen time. Thus, we want to focus on making small changes that add up to big benefits. Here’s how this looks:

  • Turning off notifications. If certain notifications are a must, keep them limited to the minimum number of apps possible. Notifications trigger a dopamine response in our brains that can quite literally make us addicted to our devices. 
  • Taking regular screen breaks during the day, shooting for even 5-10 minutes per hour, and going outdoors when possible.
  • Leaving phones behind or turning on airplane mode during times like exercising, getting out in nature, sharing meals, etc. 
  • Turning off screens every night at a designated hour, say 8PM or at least 90 minutes before bed for better sleep.
  • Making one day a week a screen-free haven: for the Branch Basics #digitaldetox challenge, this means being completely screen, mobile phone, and social media-free on Sundays. (If a whole day doesn’t work, try part of the day!) 

    Buddy up with a like-minded community

    Any big change is made 100 times easier (and more successful) when we surround ourselves with a supportive community...so join us, won’t you? We’ve started our Branch Basics #digitaldetox in January by fasting from all digital devices on Sundays, and following the tips above to minimize screen time during the work week. Get support, share your wins (and blunders), and join the fun on Instagram (except on Sundays, of course!) @BranchBasics.

    Kelly Love

    Kelly is proof that switching to a pure, natural lifestyle is powerful even for those who consider themselves healthy. She’s experienced how much our everyday choices impact our quality of life and is passionate about helping others see and feel the connection. She lives in Jackson, Mississippi with her husband and two daughters.