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The Need to Disconnect: Should You Do a Digital Detox?

Nowadays, the digital space is intricately woven into our daily lives. We’re always on our devices to scroll through social media, look up information easily, plan activities, keep in touch with peers, reach out to others, stay up to date on current events, and many more. Some people’s livelihoods even depend on staying connected to the digital space. Even so, constantly being online can be detrimental on you and your well-being. At the times when the digital space takes its toll on you, it can help to take a digital detox.

What is a Digital Detox?

A digital detox is “a period of time during which a person refrains from using their electronic devices, such as smartphones, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world" (Oxford Dictionaries, 2019, as cited in Radtke et al., 2021, p. 192). The term is often associated with abstaining or unplugging from your devices or social media. When people do a digital detox, they may disconnect from their devices entirely, or they may only refrain from engaging with some aspects of it such as certain applications, special features, and/or modes of communication like messages and chats. (Radtke et al., 2021).


It’s also important to note that digital detoxes are entirely voluntary and intentional. One should make a conscious decision to disconnect rather than be influenced by outside forces. As such, people can decide how they want to do their abstinence and for how long they will do it. Additionally, this voluntary behavior makes it easier for the person to reap the benefits of a digital detox such as adaptive behavior change and improved well-being (Radtke et al., 2021).


Why do a Digital Detox?

While the digital space, particularly social media, does have its benefits, overusing it can lead to several negative effects especially on your mental health. Frequent social media use can increase symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as levels of loneliness, stress, and the fear of missing out. It can also lower one’s self-esteem and life satisfaction. (Sadagheyani & Tatari, 2020; Stangl et al., 2023). These can be because of social comparisons, the need to stay updated, cyberbullying, exposure to distressing posts, or other factors related to social media.


Frequent use of your devices can have negative consequences on other aspects of your life. It can impact your physical health by causing musculoskeletal problems and sleep problems because of overuse. It can distract you from your responsibilities which can lead to reduced performance and productivity at school or work. It can even affect your social life by reducing the quantity and quality of your relationships and interactions with others (Radtke et al., 2021).


Taking a break from the digital world is an opportunity to replenish yourself. It can help you get back on track with your life and improve your well-being and productivity. It can also counter the negative effects of social media use. It can be hard to completely separate yourself from your devices especially with how essential it has become. What matters is you can be able to refresh yourself and establish healthy boundaries between you and the digital space.


How to do a Digital Detox

Here are some strategies you can try when you do your digital detox:

  • Engage in offline activities – Offline activities can be healthy distractions from social media and give you something else to focus on. These activities can be exercising, traditional drawing, spending time with friends, and many more.

  • Segregate work and non-work time – This is one way to establish healthy boundaries between you and your devices. You may try setting times to check work-related messages or set a time within your workday to step away from your computer (Sonnentag & Fritz, 2014).

  • Limit your Social Media Use – Schedule times for you to be on or off social media. During your detox, you can allot a few minutes within your day or abstain from them completely for the entire duration. You can limit the apps you use by temporarily removing them or setting locks on them for a certain time. You may also adjust your notification settings to not disturb you during your detox.

  • Use Digital Detox Apps – Digital detox apps can help you restrict your social media and device use without disconnecting completely. They can keep track of your usage, limit access to apps, or influence your usage behaviors with rewards or punishments. Some examples are Moment, Forest, OffTime, RealizeD, iOS Screen Time, and Android Digital Wellbeing (Schmuck, 2020).

  • Practice Mindfulness – Mindfulness can change how you see technology and social media and the perceived stress that may come with them. It can encourage more adaptive coping strategies and redirect your focus which can lead to improved well-being (Pflügner et al., 2020). Some mindfulness exercises are visualization activities, meditation, and body scans.


We at Fidecita wish you the best in your mental health endeavors. Click here to know more about Fidecita HR Advisory’s Mental Health Care services.


Pflügner, K., Maier, C., & Weitzel, T. (2020). The direct and indirect influence of mindfulness on techno-stressors and job burnout: A quantitative study of white-collar workers. Computers in Human Behavior, 106566.

Radtke, T., Apel, T., Schenkel, K., Keller, J., & vin Lindern, E. (2021). Digital detox: An effective solution in the smartphone era? A systematic review. Mobile Media and Communication, 10(2), 190-215.

Sadagheyani, H. E., & Tatari, F. (2020). Investigating the role of social media on mental health. Mental Health and Social Inclusion, 25(1), 41–51.

Schmuck, D. (2020). Does Digital Detox Work? Exploring the Role of Digital Detox Applications for Problematic Smartphone Use and Well-Being of Young Adults Using Multigroup Analysis. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 23(8), 526–532.

Sonnentag, S., & Fritz, C. (2014). Recovery from job stress: The stressor-detachment model as an integrative framework. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 36(S1), S72–S103.

Stangl, F. J., Riedl, R., Kiemeswenger, R., & Montag, C. (2023). Negative psychological and physiological effects of social networking site use: The example of Facebook. Frontiers in Psychology, 14, 1141663.

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