Digital Health

Digital detox: scientific evidence as to why it’s a good idea

Many of us are guilty of spending too much time on our phones. Could we do with a digital detox? Sure. But do we really know what our relationship with our phone is doing to our health?

This strange and ever-evolving phenomenon is exactly what researchers are hard at work trying to crack. And with the latest stats out, it seems that those who substitute their phones with real-life interaction (you know, the human kind type) find little satisfaction if any at all.

The research published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour has argued that relying on a mobile phone to ease one’s woes just won’t help. In fact, researcher Prabu David believes that using a phone for temporary relief from negative emotions could worsen psychological conditions and lead you into a downward spiral of problematic use of mobile phones.

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“The research bears out that despite all the advances we’ve made, there is still a place for meaningful, face-to-face interaction,” he said. “The mobile phone can do a range of things that simulate human interaction. It seduces us into believing it’s real, but the fact remains it’s still synthetic.”

The research studied two theories behind the use of a smart phone: to either pass the time or entertain, or to alleviate feelings of sadness or depression by seeking out others. It seemed that the second reason was the one that can cause trouble.

“This suggests that problematic use of mobile phone is fuelled in part by the purposeful or deliberate use of the mobile phone to relieve or alleviate negative feelings,” he said, “whereas habitual or ritualistic use to pass time is not strongly associated with it.”

The researchers agree that using your phone in moderation to stay in touch with family and friends is a good thing, but don’t let it replace human interaction, and we couldn’t agree more.

“If you have a chance to see someone face-to-face, take it,” David said. “Life is short.”


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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