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How to escape ‘Digital Dependency’

Lucie Spraggs's picture

2018 saw the 10-year anniversary of the smartphone, so we’re looking at how our relationship with the internet has changed since then. Since the dawn of the smartphone, our dependence on our devices has escalated enormously. Over 2.2 billion iPhones have been sold, we’ve seen 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and now 5G and, we’re now spending on average 24 hours every week online.

According to the report ‘A decade of Digital Dependency’, checking our phones is the first thing we do when we wake up and the last thing we do before we go to sleep. With 40 per cent of adults looking at their phone within five minutes of waking up, rising to 65 per cent of those aged under 35.

And 37 per cent of adults checking their phones just before switching off the lights for bed, increasing to 60 per cent of under 35s.


So how do we escape this digital dependency?

The screen-free zone

Do you often find yourself up late at night, basking in the cool glow of your television or smartphone? If so, your sleep quality may be taking a hit. Several recent studies have shown that these devices actually steal sleep from kids and adults alike. What makes this a problem is that more people than ever are using electronics in the bedroom.

Set screen-time limits

Looking to use your phone less? Scroll down—mindfully and purposefully! —to find out how to get the most out of Apple's Screen Time tools. The first thing you should do is check your Screen Time report, a bar graph that shows how much time you’ve spent on your phone in a day or in a week. (Tap the graph to see a more detailed review.) From here, you can see a breakdown of the time you're spending on specific apps and even see how many times you pick up your phone in an hour.

Next, set daily time limits for apps. Want to curb social media scrolling to 30 minutes a day? Go to Screen Time _ App Limits _ Add Limit, then select "Social Networking" to create a time limit. Once the time is up on an app, you’ll receive a notification that you’ve reached the limit. The app icon will also appear dimmed on the home screen.

Have a Digital detox

Tanya Goodin (founder of digital detox specialists ‘Time To Log Off’ and author of ‘Off’) has devised a seven-day detox, to fit in with a typical week of work while still enabling improved sleep, productivity and mood.


The rules

• Delete all social media apps from your phone; check these only from a desktop computer.

• Turn all banner-style/pop-up/sound notifications off all other apps (keep the badge-type notifications where you have to visually check the app).

• Leave your phone in your pocket or keep it out of sight for meetings/get-togethers/conversations/meals involving other people.

• Keep your phone out of sight during your commute.

• Don’t take your phone with you into the bathroom or toilet.

Day 1 - Leave your phone outside your bedroom overnight; get an alarm clock or turn up the volume on your phone so you can hear its alarm easily from your bed through the door. Continue this all week.

Day 2 - Put your phone in a central place when you return home and go to the location of the phone (rather than carrying it around with you) if you need to check it.

Day 3 - Take work email off your phone (notify everyone in advance that you’re doing this).

Day 4 - Go out to dinner, lunch or to an evening event/gym session and leave your phone behind.

Day 5 - Keep your phone on airplane mode as default all day; take it off this mode only when you need to use it.

Days 6 and 7 - Your complete digital detox: keep your phone switched off and put away from 7pm Friday to 8am Monday.

Block and delete ‘time-sapping’ sites and apps

Wasting all your productive hours on Social apps? Checking out your news feed instead of listening in class? Does the digital world make you feel under pressure? Maybe you just want to unplug for a while?