Previous articles in this series identified the downside of the misuse and overuse of technology. In this final installment, I want to provide proven solutions for digital addiction. Are these solutions easy? Not necessarily. Are they doable? Absolutely! The news is good, and you should be encouraged to embark on this challenging journey to digital wellness. And, you should seriously consider taking the entire family on this expedition together.
Following will be a series of strategies to balance our over-dependence of technology, but we can’t get the cart before the horse. If you or someone in your home is addicted to technology, a digital detox must come first. With this type of addiction, slowly weaning off of the digital drugs rarely works. In other words, the brain has to “reset” before you can have a measure of self-control over those online activities that can so easily cause us to lose track of time and digital sobriety.
The symptoms of digital addiction include anger, aggression, anxiety, depression, extreme irritability, attention deficits, loss of sleep, and emotional numbness. I will offer a simple test. The next time you’re using a tablet or phone to babysit your child, politely ask for it back. If you encounter resistance, take it away. If you see any of the above symptoms, you can rest assured that there is a measure of literal dependency, and a digital detox should begin right away.
Then, ask an adult that you trust to perform the same test on you later when you are not expecting it. An addict, regardless of what they are addicted to, is not fully qualified to self-diagnose. While you are more likely than a child to have the ability to hide your anger or frustration, be honest with yourself at how this makes you feel. Are you experiencing any of the above symptoms? If so, a digital detox is also in order. A detox takes between four and six weeks; you cannot look at any screens, including television. After a successful rehab, you can return to limited technology. Your new definition of “limit” means staying away from digital activities that are all-consuming. I’m sure you’re thinking of a few right now.
With many people now working from home and students homeschooling, I strongly advise that you keep a regular schedule. Your body, mind, and emotions will love you for sleeping and getting up at the same time, as well as maintaining consistent daily work, meal, and study hours.
Make sure all bedrooms are free of technology. One regular excuse I receive from some people is that they use their phones as their alarm clock. The light goes on when I remind them that an inexpensive traditional alarm clock will do the trick. Do you remember what it felt like the last time you slept for 8 hours? Your children need at least 9 hours of sleep for proper brain health and cognition.
Be finished with all screen time three hours before bed. That blue screen you’re staring at will inhibit the sleepy hormone, melatonin, from being fully released. In other words, you might go to sleep, but you will not sleep properly. A consistent lack of proper sleep will wreak havoc, especially in the younger ones.
Do not allow your children to look at any screens, including television, before school. This goes for adults before work as well. If you ignore this advice, your attention span will be short and divided for at least three hours from the time you stopped looking at the screen. This has to do with the stimulating chemicals that are released from engaging with digital devices.
These strategies are not exhaustive. After all, I’ve written two books about this subject, and a third one is on the way. However, if you ask God to help you with just the few I’ve suggested, you will likely be shocked at how your life changes. Family relationships will be better than ever, and your intimacy with God will soar.
1 Corinthians 6:12 (AMP) Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me].