The human brain processes roughly 74 GB of information every day. Yes, 74 GB per day, about 10-12% more data than what we consumed 40 years ago. The primary source of this overwhelming exposure information is social media. The advent of smart devices have surely helped human in many ways but for our brain, it’s jeopardy. While we cannot turn our backs on technology or social media completely but taking frequents breaks from it is the need of the hour. There is a term for that ‘digital detox.’

Owing to this information overload and stress that follows, more and more urban people are opting for a regular digital detox. Let’s discuss the practice in detail.

What is a digital detox?

Digital detox in the simplest words is taking a voluntary and temporary break from social media and digital devices in an attempt to give your brain some rest and recovery.

This is done to avoid the addiction that digital usage exposes us to and to give your mind some time to relax.

A subset of digital detox is social media detox, which is a period of time when individuals voluntarily stay away from social media.

A 2018 survey of more than 4,000 people in Britain and the United States by market research firm GWI found that one in five people had been on a digital detox, with 70% trying to limit the time they spent online.

Does digital detox help?

Digital detox is merely the absence of social media and digital devices. While taking a break from the technology once in a while definitely helps in relaxing the mind, combating sleeping disorders, anxiety and depression, it is not enough.

 Theodora Sutton, a digital anthropologist who has been researching an off-grid retreat in the United States, says that merely taking breaks from digital media won’t help.

People usually tend to go for digital detox when they are away or travelling or taking up another activity. This means once you do away with your digital device, it is absolutely necessary to replace that void with something else.

“If you just take technology away and don’t replace it with anything else, you are not automatically going to have a better time,” said Sutton.

  A 2019 study conducted by Loughborough University, in Britain, found a 24-hour period of smartphone abstinence had no effect on mood and anxiety.  

Lead author Andrew Przybylski, an experimental psychologist at the Oxford Internet Institute, said the mental health impacts of digital technology are often exaggerated.

“It is really bizarre to think that a simple trick to just switching off your mobile can lead you to live a happier life,” said Przybylski

However, one positive outcome from digital detox is that despite coming back to usual access to smart devices, users see reduced time-spend on digital media.