There’s a scene in a Portlandia episode where Fred is caught in a technology loop. All of his devices are pinging, updating, and under his breath he starts quietly crying for help as he furiously responds to each Pavlovian cue. The scene, though totally hilarious, is revealing about the way tech can impact our lives when not utilized with moderation and with firm boundaries. The impact of tech is evident and it has now become crucial to unplug. Unplugging is just as important to our well-being as water, exercise, mental health, and yoga.
Studies are finding interesting side effects of technology. We’ve known for a few years that excessive mobile use can impact psychological distress and anxiety, and one study released this year found that mobile dependence and problematic use is a direct factor in the development of mental illness, specifically in populations that use devices to avoid negative experiences or feelings. Another very recent study found a distinct correlation between cellphone-distracted parents and stunted emotional development in infants. Findings from this initial research revealed that when caregivers are distracted by devices, important consistency cues may not happen due to tech disruption and can be missed by the child, potentially leading to lasting distress.
The phrase “digital detox” was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online in August 2013. There is a growing body of research about the impact of technology, spe…