10 Tips to Combat Digital Addiction

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My recent blogs have raised the concern of the impact of digital devices on us and our children’s emotional health (Why a Digital Detox? & Digital Detox for Kids). Now we are drawing everything together and offering you and your family 10 top tips on how to kick technology addiction, overload and overwhelm.

The guidance below will help you and your family foster healthy relationships with the internet, digital devices and screens in general.

5 tips for both children and adults:

  1. Make a list of all technology you and others in your home use daily and assess the time spent using it all. There are apps to help you monitor your phone usage of all your different accounts – such as ‘AntiSocial’ app. You may be shocked at how much you’re on your phone every day! Regularly switch off – make mealtimes a device free slot and ensure everyone has a complete break daily from all of it – schedule in this time.
  2. Turn off your notifications to break the ‘instant response’ habit.
  3. Limit social media usage and set rules for checking it. Scrolling feeds mindlessly is a method of numbing out and disengaging with reality. Doing this every waking hour of the day soon creates an addictive pattern.
  4. Regularly assess the impact and ‘cleanse’ accordingly your social media content, ie who you follow and who follows you. If what you are reading generates negativity within you – ditch it.
  5. This may be controversial, but it works and ensures restful, restorative sleep for the entire household – make ALL bedrooms a digital and device free zone!

5 further tips for adults:

  1. Choose to receive only that which is essential and serves you – regularly unsubscribe from marketing and junk emails that just clutter your inbox.
  2. At work set discrete times during the day to check emails, texts and social media feeds. This will increase your productivity, social engagement skills and time effectiveness.
  3. Make digital communication systems work for you in a smart way – create folders for your emails and house keep regularly. As with paper-based communication read it once, act on it, then file it or delete it.
  4. If you recognise your relationship with technology needs attention discuss it with those you trust at home and at work and consider asking a friend to join you in the change process as a ‘detox buddy’.
  5. Consciously choose to leave your devices at home when you can – good opportunities for this include holidays, events with loved ones or walks. Look up and into the eyes of others or nature. See things through your physical eyes rather than through a camera.

5 further tips for children:

  1. Decide on the house rules around digital usage, lead by example and set boundaries and consequences as you would around alcohol and drugs use.
  2. Encourage children to do in ‘real life’ what they love watching on the screen (within reason of course!) A passion for football or music are great examples.
  3. Teach children how to communicate, express their needs and express compassion via their own voice not the typed word – this skill empowers them, reduces anxiety and sets them up for an independent adulthood.
  4. As well as no devices or screens in the bedroom ensuring no device use one hour before bed is a protective factor for restful sleep. Turn the WiFi off!
  5. Educate yourself about and ensure your parental settings on the WiFi are fit for purpose for the age and needs of the youngsters in the house. Take charge of this! Your house, your rules – children need this dynamic for safety and wellbeing.

The key point to remember is that the relationship between humanity and these powerful technologies is in its infancy. We are all grappling as how best to get them to serve us whilst dealing with their addictive nature and their potential destructiveness to our mind, bodies and hearts.

So be gentle with yourself as you find your way but the results are worth it…

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