Our lives are becoming increasingly more digital. We seem to rely on technology for all our day-to-day tasks. Whether that be finding a route into town, researching an interesting topic or constantly checking our emails.
We all seem to be addicted to tech, especially smart phones, with the average smartphone user in Ireland checking their phone 50 times a day. It’s not really a surprise though, technology is so advanced now that we can do most things with our phone. We can check the news, book a restaurant, learn another language, message our friends and watch endless YouTube videos. Another tempting time waster is social media, it’s hard to resist the endless scroll. The ways in which your phone can both help and entertain you are endless.
The communications regulation service Ofcom said “Two-fifths of people (41%) say being online enables them to work more flexibly, and three-quarters (74%) say it keeps them close to friends and family.” Although technology can definitely enhance our lives, our addiction to it can be harmful to our eyes. All that time spent looking at screens can cause Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) which can cause discomfort, particularly if you’re a contact lens wearer.
A digital detox is a great way to give your eyes a much-needed break. Your phone or laptop can be a massive drain on your time. Often our digital devices serve as constant distractions. The time you spend watching TV or adding things to your wish list online could be better used practising a new hobby or talking face-to-face with a loved one. Screen time can also negatively affect our sleep, as the blue light tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime and that we should be awake. So, we know we need to reduce our time on tech, how do we do it?
You could start by going tech-free for an hour or two a day. This could be while you’re at the gym, on your commute to work or perhaps in your evenings after work. Choose a period in the day when you won’t need technology and let your mind switch off.
Try leaving your tech at home
If you’re going out to meet a friend for coffee or you’re going on a walk, you could leave your phone at home. If you don’t know the way then you can go retro by using actual pen and paper (remember those things?) to write down the directions. Without your phone you’ll be more present with those around you.
Take the tech out of your bedroom
Most of us are guilty of using our laptop or mobile phone in bed, this can give us poor quality sleep. Take all the gadgets out of your room and try to think of that room as just a space for relaxing and sleeping. You can buy an alarm clock, so you won’t have to rely on your mobile device. Reading a book in bed will be more relaxing than mindlessly looking through Instagram.
Encourage others to join you
If you see other people surfing the web, it’s only going to make you want to do it too. If you’re at dinner or around a friend’s house, ask everyone to put their phones down for the duration of the meal/evening. You all may have withdrawal symptoms for the first few minutes but soon you’ll be paying attention to the people around you instead.
Find tech-free ways of doing things
If you usually get your news from Twitter, try reading a newspaper instead. If you have research to do for a topic you could go to the library and find helpful resources there instead. These are extra steps, which completely goes against our impulsive nature, but they’ll help you to take time out from screens which will benefit both your vision and your well being.
The whole idea of advancing technology is to entertain us, but also to make our lives as easy as possible. Easy isn’t always better though. You don’t have to digitally detox every single day, but if you can do it even once a week, you'll be protecting your eyes as well as your mental health.