Screen-free- The Recovery Guide for Escaping Tech Addiction

Tech addiction is now more real than ever before.

From just a simple Instagram notification, to eventually succumbing to the need to scroll through our entire feed, in order to catch up with every post.

One undeniable truth is that this generation is plugged in to the internet world than any other.

Student texting in class

It’s undisputedly the right place to be, for information’s sake. Keeping in touch with everyone we know is a data load of fun.

However, David Greenfield, assistant clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School, is of the opinion that such fun and “pleasurable behaviors are addictive”.

Which is why, at this point, we have to stop and ask ourselves; are we too in love with our devices?

Well, maybe if you looked up from your phone right now, you’d come to find that, at least, 2 other people besides yourself have their eyes glued to their phone screens too.

People glued to their phones

With the advancement in designs and operations of Televisions, Laptops, and the most common, smartphones, we’ve certainly taken a huge leap from recreational outdoor activities to just chilling on a couch in our living room.

And maybe binging off the latest Netflix series on our various devices. Which seems okay …

… until a few days later when we’re still sitting on that same couch, and we have no idea what the sun looks like anymore. Or what day it is.

Or we’re out with friends, and we’re all texting each other, even while literally just sitting right next to each other. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Taking into consideration these scenarios, it’s safe to say that tech addiction is alarmingly becoming like a siren’s call. Even when you don’t necessarily want to be caught in its pull.

All it takes is just one notification from WhatsApp or Twitter to hypnotize you.

What are the signs of addiction to gadgets?

Here’s how to you know when you’re waist deep or being pulled deep into tech addiction:

1. Taking a stand becomes hard.

Tech addiction gets so bad that we even have to mentally tell ourselves, “I just want to check and see if Ella has replied, then I’ll go off” or “I just want to watch one episode of Nancy Drew, and I’m done. I promise”.

Lack of self-control is a sign of tech addiction

But as soon as we set eyes on that glossy screen, we find ourselves wanting more. After all, it only takes as low as 5 seconds of eye-catching content, be it an image or a video, to begin the endless loop of our digital manipulation.

And when we suddenly can’t stand our ground anymore, when we don’t know that it’s just about time to put down the phone, or shut down that laptop, then that’s only the beginning of a serious problem.

2. You start exhibiting “check symptoms”.

Check symptoms have you constantly opening and closing WhatsApp to look for new messages, even while there are none. You constantly keep opening up that game to see if your energy bar has been restored so you can begin playing again.

check symptoms are another close sign of tech addiction

Even while they are not necessarily important. You might even go as far as imagining the notification sounds or notification lights from your phone.

In the end, you succumb to the check urges, “just to be sure”. And if this crippling habit of always wanting to never miss out on anything online persists, then you certainly have an addiction problem.

3. Tech addiction prevents you from getting any work done.

Do you find it hard to recollect what you were doing before you opened your Twitter app? Or do you feel like you are taking two steps backwards, every time you come back to earth from your phone world?

Texting while working is a disorienting distraction

If you never seem to be at a steady productive flow, or you always seem distracted, then that is obvious sign enough that you need to power down for a while.

Addiction to technology not only takes quite a heavy and negative toll on your sleep pattern, but it also affects your relationship with the people around you.

This also includes your productivity. Let’s not forget your eyesight, as well as your self-esteem.

However, all hope isn’t lost. You still have time to break out from it.


By detoxifying yourself of tech addiction.

Well, for starters, this solution doesn’t exactly involve you selling everything you own and relocating to Tsambisa forest in hiding from civilization.

Phone detox

It begins with baby steps towards setting limits and boundaries to your screen time to defeat tech addiction, which you can accomplish with:

1. A good ol’ self-evaluation.

Before you put away your gadgets, take a trip down the “most used apps” section on your device. This allows you to know which apps you’re making use of the most.

Also, it will determine how you plan your screen time, from here on.

Afterwards, ask yourself questions like:

  • How much time do I spend on my phone or laptop in just a day? Do I take breaks in between? How long are these breaks? And am I always eager to dive back online after the breaks? Do I ever cut these breaks short just so I can quickly get back online?
  • Is my phone my first contact as soon as I open my eyes in the morning? Do I drop my phone, switch to my computer or laptop, and then watch TV immediately after?

If your answers to all these questions rhyme with “yes”, then you are ready for the next step, which is…

2. Turning off all notifications during work hours.

Only check for messages at a particular time throughout that entire day. E.g. Once every hour or two.

Turn off all notifications while you work

Then practice reducing the hours everyday, until you can finally feel your heart not splitting into a hundred pieces every time you think of being separated from your device.

3. Replacing your toxic tech addiction lifestyle with a brand new one.

Your body is definitely going to fight you and resist this change. When you cut back on your device usage time, you’re creating a void.

It’s like decluttering and getting rid of old stuff you don’t need in your house anymore. You’ve been so used to having them clog up potential space that seeing it empty now kinda feels strange.

Which is why you may need to fill it up with something else. Like reading a book, picking up tennis, and repainting your room, if you have to.

The point is to distract yourself with creativity, or just simple activity. Because who knows?

You might pick up the perfect new skill, or discover new things about yourself in the detox process.

Is technology taking over our lives?

Man texting while driving

The truth we seem to be avoiding, almost everyday, is that technology is slowly trying to take complete control of our lives, and even while we’re very much aware of this, we can’t seem to do much about it because we lack the willpower to stop it from happening.

Technological detoxing, however, will help us seize back the reins, and open our eyes to the world around us we’re missing out on.

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