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Locked: At Home Or In Digital World?

Updated on April 23, 2020
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Neha Tare is an IT consultant (digital transformation) by profession. She believes that digital well being is critical for overall fitness.

Locked: At Home Or In Digital World?

The world has been hit hard by the Corona pandemic. While the silver lining is that fortunate ones are getting time to spend at home, with their loved ones; the telecom operators across the world have seen surge in the data usage. During a video call with some of my friends, a friend shared her daily schedule during this lockdown. She followed a simple routine: Wake up, check social media & messenger, eat, get online for office work, again check social media & messenger, eat, explore Netflix, again do office work, sleep & repeat. After 20 days of lockdown & same routine, she has now been having severe neck & shoulder pain. Her eyes have become dry due to excessive exposure to digital screens. Most of the folks are either completely locked in their screens throughout the day or juggling between different digital gadgets & household work.

This made me realize that along with Corona virus fear, one more thing that is impacting our lives during these days is the constant of use of technology. The technology has definitely made our lives better by adding convenience & work continuity, but it does not stop at that, as it is ‘always ON’.

The new age technology’s constant use along with stay at home mandate is giving rise to a lot of problems like anxiety, dissatisfaction, low mood, depression, anger, irritability, headache, back & neck ache, poor sleep quality, shorter attention span, just to name a few. Although social distancing is the need of the hour and is important to abide by these rules, but we also need to think about how we spend our time at home as the long term impact of the increased virtual noise can be irreversible.

Some alarming facts to ponder upon

  • Amount of time (minutes) spent on email increased by 17%, instant messengers by 31% & social networking by 36% during lockdown in Canada (Source)
  • Obvious.ly saw a 76% rise in daily accumulated likes on #ad posts of its own campaigns on Instagram & 27% jump in TikTok engagement jump during lockdown (Source)
  • Digital eye strain reduces our blink rate by half & nearly 60% of US adults are affected by it (Source)
  • Over 40 percent of bedside smartphone users wake up from noises or lighting from their device notifications (Source)
  • Our attention span has reduced from 12 minutes to 5 minutes with constant use of technology (Source)

Aren’t these facts scary? Let us pause for a second and think about where are we heading?

Digital minimalism is the key

A solution to tackle these technology addiction related problems is digital wellbeing; digital detox; digital minimalism; different names for the same thing. The moto of all these is the same – intentional & thoughtful use of technology, only when it is essential.

Digital minimalism, as per famous author Cal Newport’s definition, is a philosophy that helps you question what digital communication tools (and behaviors surrounding these tools) add the most value to your life. It is motivated by the belief that intentionally and aggressively clearing away low-value digital noise, and optimizing your use of the tools that really matter, can significantly improve your life.

Digital minimalism is the essential to

  • Be in the present moment, with people around us at our home, not just physically but mentally too;
  • Enjoy the long lost hobbies, which have remained in our CVs and slam books
  • Let our brains engage in something real & redevelop the creativity within us

More importantly, to get our lives back from the digital world, live again & not become technology slaves without even realizing.

There is no particular time or day to start emphasizing on technology’s appropriate use, the sooner the better. However, considering the current pandemic & lockdown situation, isn’t it the only friend for the world available 24x7? So should we think about all this now?

The answer is an undisputed YES, because overuse of technology during this time of stress & overburden of work (office & home both) will severely affect our body, mind & soul. We hopefully will get rid of Corona soon, but we might get trapped in another lifelong lifestyle based trouble.

Here are few basic steps to start with during lockdown

  1. Screen hygiene – Clean your digital devices keypads, screens, covers regularly with diluted soap water
  2. Set boundaries -Fix your work & home, mobile, email time; check your emails twice or thrice in a day and for the rest of the work time, you can focus on the actual work & remain productive
  3. Fix your screen time – Check how much time you spend on all digital devices in a day & start by fixing your total screen time to an hour or two less than the current one. Then gradually reduce the screen time to achieve the target
  4. Plan your day - Decide the time slots when you want/need to log on & log off. The screen time has to be categorized by the devices as well; for e.g. 1.5 hours for mobile in a day; 6 slots of 15 mins after every 2 hours between 10.00 am to 8.00 PM
  5. Schedule your device time - Fix the time that you are going to spend on each activity or app; for e.g. 15 mins for social media, 20 mins for emails, 30 mins for calls etc. You can set timers for yours apps in most android (Digital Wellbeing) & iOS devices
  6. Unclutter - Delete all unnecessary apps, files, music, podcasts etc. This will help save some place in your device as well as in your mind
  7. Silence please - Turn off all apps notification sounds, lights & vibrations apart from calls. Not every beep that your device gives is critical and does not deserve your immediate attention

Remember, we are not talking about a complete disconnection from technology as that is neither recommended nor possible. We are just talking about its conscious, intentional & thoughtful use, instead of a habitual one.

Moreover, there is not going to be a better time than now, as lockdown due to virus spread has given us time to think about ourselves again.

Last but not the least; technology should never take precedence over people; close family/friends with whom you are staying at this time. We need to learn to strike a balance between our real life & virtual life.

As rightly said by Ciara, an American musician, "this digital world is what you make it in the end".


Tech addiction

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Neha Tare

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