Do we need a break from our smartphones?

accreditation
People could benefit from taking time off from their smartphones.
People could benefit from taking time off from their smartphones.

It's no secret that we love our smartphones and other electronic devices for staying connected.

Perhaps we love them too much.

According to one study on cellphone use by a mobile security company, 63% of women and 73% of men between the ages of 18 and 34 can't go even one hour without checking their phones.

Missing out

And research published in the internet-based journal First Monday found that when college students took a break from social media, some were unable to find substitutes for the place it filled in their lives. Many had the feeling they were missing out on something when they weren't connected.

A previous Health24 article asked the question if young children should even own cellphones.

But all this connectivity comes at a price. For starters, time spent on our devices may be time taken away from exercise. Like other sedentary behaviours, this can reduce your fitness level.

Research done at Harvard suggests that being available 24/7 for texts and emails may actually make you less productive at work and less satisfied with your personal life. Indeed, results from the latest American Psychological Association "Stress in America" survey found that 44% of people who check email, texts and social media either "often" or "constantly" said they feel disconnected from family, even when they're together.

The need to unplug

And regularly using electronic devices (think cellphones, tablets, laptops) late at night has been linked to sleep disorders, stress and even depression symptoms. And your risk grows if you're also a heavy cellphone user.

What's the answer?

Unplugging – taking regular breaks away from your devices and putting limits on how available you are. The need to unplug is so strong there's even a National Day of Unplugging, from sundown to sundown starting on the first Friday in March.

But you don't have to wait until then. Try turning off your electronics an hour earlier at night and designate a few unplugged hours every weekend. It might be hard at first, but like any other habit, you'll grow into it over time.

According to the American Psychological Association, these nuggets of quiet will help you relax, reflect and even be more creative.

Image credit: iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes
28% - 9936 votes
No
72% - 25941 votes
Vote