Digital detox: how to unhook without cutting everything?

On average, you enter your smartphone about 76 times a day, for 162 minutes in total. You spend an average of 50 minutes on Facebook and Messenger, a good half hour on Snapchat, or 1h30 on Spotify. You do all this, of course, at the same time, on the principle of “multitasking”. And you finally spend more than 6 hours a day on the Internet.

Are you addicted to social media? Probably. Like almost everyone, actually. The one who has never spent, alone, the bulk of his journey by metro eyes with his smart phone is a pearl rare. Just like the one who does not watch television while “scrolling” on his Facebook timeline, or sending messages to his friends on Messenger.

Smartphones became an extension of ourselves

It’s not really a scoop: digital has changed our relationship to time and information. Our smartphone makes us more impatient, more passive, more stressed … but we need it, as if it were something really vital. In fact, we could compare our phones to “comforters”, which we would consult constantly to reassure us.

“People are obsessed with their smartphones, especially young people. Phones have become a way to comfort themselves, like a baby chewing a blanket. It has become an essential part of social connectivity, “says Jo Hemmings, behavioral psychologist at Global Security Mag.

Become an “extension” of ourselves, smartphones allow us to avoid unpleasant emotions, such as boredom or loneliness. Michael Stora, psychoanalyst and member of the Observatory of Digital Worlds in Human Sciences (OMNSH), says that if we send SMS messages or social networks 24 hours a day, it is above all “to make us feel less alone” .

The fear of missing everything

Either, but there is the margin between using his smartphone to reassure himself, and being addicted to his use. Addiction is mainly reflected in what psychologists and sociologists call “nomophobia” – FoMO (Fear of Missing Out). It is actually the fear of missing, without his phone, important information … For example, a Facebook event, a conversation on WhatsApp, or a ransom on Tinder.

It is to answer this fear that you enter your smartphone every 20 minutes or so … and that applications send you notifications at all times. But do not think they are doing it for your own sake: it is also a strategy, which aims to capture your attention. By encouraging you to stay as much as possible on Facebook, for example, the platform makes money: it transforms your time spent on the site into market value, which it resells to advertisers.

Among the stratagems used by the “product philosophers” of social media, besides the notifications, there is also the “scrolling”, or infinite scrolling of the threads of actuality – for example, on Facebook, you will find that your timeline is endless . The automatic playback of videos after viewing on YouTube goes in the same direction. Apps also bet on the attraction of “likes”, which allow to “validate” the publications shared by his friends, to express his approval, or simply to show that they have been seen. For the anthropologist Natasha Schull, it is actually the same process as slot machines: the prospect of a possible “reward” incites the user to return to his phone to not miss anything.

An addiction that crushes us

This compulsive use of our smartphones has an obviously detrimental effect on our health. According to a study by the Digital Society Forum of Orange, more than half of the French feel “saturated” – images, videos, likes, instant conversations, timelines to scroll … The resulting attentional overload ” crushes us, “notes Nicole Aubert, psychologist and sociologist, in” The Cult of Emergency “.

The FoMO also has deleterious effects on our friendly or loving relations: “41% of the French have already had the impression that their partner was more sensitive to the charms of its connected device than to theirs,” writes Global Security Mag.

Apps to Stop Your Smartphone Addiction

It is time to react. But is it necessary to disconnect completely, and practice the “digital detox”, which obviously has its limits, in an ultra-connected world? Perhaps it is better to opt for a less radical solution: a simply reasoned and measured use of our smartphones.

No way to disconnect from the world. The idea is to become aware of the time we spend on different applications, to be self-limiting … using for example an application like Moment or BreakFree (iOS, Android), which calculate the time you spend on the screen of your phone, and offer you “challenges” to reduce the time of use of your device. These two “ethical” apps respect your attention according to the principles of the time well spent movement, which was created by Tristan Harris, a former Google official, to promote services that do not addicted.

Another application, Offtime, proposes to block or filter, during a given period, everything that is not “essential”. You will not be able to use Facebook for three hours, for example, but your child will be able to contact you in case of an emergency. If you are subject to burn-out and you check your professional emails even on the beach, Offtime will allow you, on the contrary, to block everything that comes from work …

You can also follow the basic tips of Time Well Spent: disable notifications, use “do not disturb” mode, recharge your smartphone away from your room and use a classic alarm clock (so you do not jump on your phone in the early morning), and finally, to store “addictive” applications in folders, in order to be less tempted by their colorful and attractive icons.