Phone addition: 5 signs to be aware of

Are you forever checking your devices?

Recently, I wrote a piece on six ways to calm the mind, after Bupa research revealed that only 5% of the nation takes a break during the day, compared to 60% back in 1997.

Worryingly, the poll found that most of this time is used to check social media, emails and catch up on WhatsApp conversations – so it’s no surprise that so-called digital detox events are surging in popularity.

This Sunday 25 June marks the third National Unplugging Day, which urges parents around the UK to #GoGadgetFree.

The event, which is being held at the Riverside Cottage and Yurt in Barton Stacey, near Winchester in Hampshire, encourages families from Hampshire and the South East to reconnect offline by taking part in fun and exciting activities.

Dr Richard Graham, technology addiction lead and consultant adolescent psychiatrist at London’s Nightingale Hospital, asserts that there is an ‘unhealthy dependence’ when children (and adults) display severe distress and agitation when separated from technology.

“When people feel an uncomfortable sense of withdrawal when not online, we know that the relationship with technology is not being managed properly,” Dr Graham says.

“It is important that we can find the right balance between maximising the benefits of new technologies without forming an unhealthy dependence. When electronic devices start to have more influence over behaviour than anyone else or anything else, that is the moment when really you need to start changing things.”

He urges parents to ask the following:

“5 signs of phone addiction”

  • Does your child argue with or feel criticised by you for the amount of time they spend online?
  • Does your child ignore and avoid other activities to spend more time using devices?
  • Does your child constantly ask when they will be allowed to go back online when they are offline?
  • Does your child feel tense or bad if they can’t get online – a feeling which noticeably disappears when they are allowed to reconnect with technology?
  • Does your child hide or become defensive about what they do online?

Nightingale Hospital has a free online test that determines whether technology use is abnormal or problematic.

Personally, I can testify to the benefits of taking a tech-break. Back in 2015, I gave up my mobile for an entire weekend when I went on a digital detox retreat with Push Mind and Body for a newspaper article. I had a comprehensive Nuffield Health body MOT before and after to monitor changes in my stress levels and body.

The results were impressive – you can read the feature here.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by tech, why not make a conscious effort to do something about it this weekend by following Dr Graham’s top tips below:

“5 ways to go tech free”

  • Tell everyone that you are doing a digital detox, since the more people you tell about your detox, the more people will be watching you – and the less you will want to fail.
  • Create fun offline activities which can distract you from feelings of technology withdrawal and enable you to actually look forward to detox days.
  • Abstain from technology for 72 hours before reintroducing devices in a controlled manner. Establish a maximum daily time allowance for periods spent on your gadgets.
  • Store phones and tablets in a different room to your bedroom overnight. This will stop you using them before turning in for the night and immediately on waking. Also, turn off all screens two hours before going to bed.
  • If necessary, lock your devices away.

Fancy giving these suggestions a try?

I’d love to hear from you if do, once you’re back online of course!

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