According to a research conducted by Dscout, an average smartphone user touches their device about 2617 times a day. This data, together with the peak of 5400 touches per day for "extreme users", is sufficient to give the measure of the level of pervasiveness in our lives of the instrument of access to the digital world par excellence.
How have we got to such a situation?
Just like the slot machines, the smartphone's rapid feedback mechanism should be placed at the base of everything: every time we click on the screen, we immediately receive a stimulus in response. This is the simplest most effective of all the gratification systems, which have been enriched over time by the notification functions. Hearing the notification sound coming from a smartphone makes the brain release dopamine, in response to the fact our brain has associated that sound to some kind of reward. In the long run, notification sounds can become even more rewarding than the actual feedback, a clear symptom of addiction development.
In general, scholars point to two major warning signs: not being able to quantify the time spent in the digital world and the realization that technology is affecting your daily routine, making it worse. More specifically, it is advisable to start worrying when you realize that your relationship with technology is interfering with the regularity of sleep, undermining your ability to complete work, reducing the time you spend with your family and friends and it is proving a cause of unpleasant attitudes and behavior towards other people. Have you ever taken the phone out of your pocket for no particular reason, but to run the Instagram feed in the middle of a conversation? As you may guess, that is not exactly elegance at its finest.
Detox from digital
In any case, it is often sufficient to even slightly change your daily habits to ward off the worst effects of technology. First of all, it is very useful to set some rules: avoiding checking the phone as a first activity after waking up is a great start, but you can for example also prevent yourself from using your smartphone while spending time with your family or friends, or periodically schedule tech-free days. Planning daily activities in detail is another excellent habit that allows you to have a clear vision of what you are sacrificing when you turn to technology without really needing it.
Sometimes, the digital world can be a real escape from unpleasant thoughts or situations that generate anxiety. In these cases, it is essential to go back to the origin of the problem in order to deal with it, rather than dodge it online in an attempt to avoid it.
Far from pointing the finger at the use of technology per se, those who promote these initiatives are driven by the desire to let people rediscover the value of self-reflection and its ability to reduce stress while improving the quality of relationships – the real and more authentic ones, coming from the "real world".