In the UK, 15 million people (1 in 3) have undergone a ‘digital detox’ this year in order to strike a healthier balance between technology, and life, with 11% having done this in the last week alone.
Major new research, as part of Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2016, reveals the reason for the tech time out was a desire to spend more time doing other things for 44% of those asked, and more time talking to friends and family for 38%.
Many of those who spent time offline found it to be a positive experience: 33% felt more productive, 27% found it liberating, and 25% said they enjoyed life more. Interestingly though, 16% experienced a ‘fear of missing out’ (‘FOMO’) 15% felt lost and 14% ‘cut-off’
The length of time taken away from digital varied, 25% spent up to a day internet-free; 20% a week off; and there were 5% who went web-free for up to a whole month.
In the world of business, we are often more glued to our smartphones, work can dictate the need to be more readily available. Just ten years ago, we were not constantly available, as we are now. It’s often smartphones, which 71% of UK adults own (up from 66% in just a year) that have allowed us to be so connected at all hours. It can really be useful to get those emails out of the way on an evening, but certainly in some industries it’s the norm and culture to expect employees to reply to emails, whatever the hour. Whether responding to that last email, checking LinkedIn, and reading industry news. We are often avid tech users anyway, but add that in with personal use of tech too – is it all adding up to be tech overload?
I’ve always tried to have downtime from my smartphone, particularly at home, I have an eight year old child, who I often worry shares me with my smartphone. An hour of the phone being in the drawer can be entirely refreshing, and allow the simplicity of life to take over. I’ve always been a great believer of ‘the best things in life are free’ and I live by a mantra of ‘we only die with our memories’. In reality though, i’m as much of a tech user as the next entrepreneur.
One move I made earlier this year, was to switch off my email alerts. I don’t get a banner, or home screen notification of an email. I’ve got to say, this has been a hugely positive experience.
Rather than my smartphone dictating when I go into ‘work mode’ either physically by responding, or mentally switching to that, I choose when I delve into my inbox. Sure, if i’m waiting to hear from a client, or I know there’s a big issue ongoing, I will check more frequently, but it’s stopped me from needing to glance every time it pings. Then inevitably mentally responding to the email, digesting info, or reading that newsletter.
Does the content of this report surprise you? Do you ever feel like you’ve reached tech overload, or do you think it’s a matter of control of use?
I’d be interested to hear if you’ve had a ‘digital detox’ or have developed a healthier use of digital over time. Do you have a separate work phone? Do you switch off at a certain hour? Or have you simply thought of ways to alter your tech use, but struggled to implement?