Done with Digital Fatigue

Done with Digital Fatigue

School time, screen time, sleep time, school time, screen time, sleep time, school, screen, sleep…

Does it feel like you’ve been scrolling, swiping, tapping, texting for days on end? What’s next? What more? Who’s best? What gives? Is your vision blurred? Have you lost sight of the end of the endless tunnel?

Digital fatigue can often feel like the never-ending cycle from hell. Foggy head, constant boredom, a loss for ideas, tightness in the chest, annoyed with everything, and general anxiety, ugh. When your body and mind start to fight back you know it’s cuz you’re not listening.

So what can you do?

Start by understanding the impact of pervasive and extended device usage on your wellbeing, and then explore effective strategies to address this modern-day issue.

Here are some eye-opening device usage stats on people under the age of 18 in the UAE:

  • On average, they spend 6 to 12 hours daily on social media outside school hours1.
  • Ranked 5th in the world at spending the most time in front of mobile device2.
  • Are among the youngest in the world to own a first mobile phone; 7 years old is the average age of a child in UAE to receive their first mobile device2.
  • Ranked 1st in the world when it comes to unofficial “screen addiction.” 3

This is all just numbers until you connect the excessive usage back to digital fatigue and the impact on overall wellbeing:

  1. Sleep Disruptions:

The blue light emitted by screens interferes with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Furthermore, when you stay up late texting, you are not only getting less shut eye, you also lack deep REM sleep which is essential for processing and storing the day’s information into memory. 

  1. Increased Stress Levels:

Constant notifications, academic pressures, and social comparisons in the digital realm contribute to heightened stress levels among teens. 

  1. Impaired Focus and Productivity:

Digital fatigue can negatively impact concentration, cognitive function, and overall productivity, affecting academic performance and personal growth. 

  1. Addictive Behaviour Conditioning:

Did you know that before the age of approximately 25 years of age, the human brain lacks the fully developed self-control system?Before that age the connections between the emotional and decision-making parts of the brain are still developing hence why you struggle to explain what you were thinking when describing moments of overwhelming emotional input4.

“Social media platforms drive surges of dopamine to the brain to keep consumers coming back over and over again. The shares, likes and comments on these platforms trigger the brain’s reward center, resulting in a high similar to the one people feel when gambling or using drugs”says, Dr. Nancy DeAngelis, CRNP, Director of Behavioral Health5. Unfortunately, Adolescents who use social media from a very young age are more in danger of developing these disorders and future addictive behaviors. 

  1. Decline in Creativity

Have you noticed that any time you have a free moment, your first instinct is usually to pop open your phone? Whether you are waiting for the elevator, the bus, or just killing time in between two random moments, it’s there to fill the space. 

Have you ever thought what you might gain if you were not to do that?

Our brains have become used to being stimulated all the time, eliminating the potential that ‘free moments’ create for things like reflection, mindfulness, idea generation, connection with others or more.

At least this tells us that the good news is that your boredom is not a bad thing after all. In fact, it is the doorway to feeling better than you do now. According to Pediatrician Michael Rich, who is also the director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an associate professor of social and behavioral sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Boredom is the space in which creativity and imagination happen.” 6 

Strategies for Combatting Digital Fatigue:

  1. Implementing Screen Breaks:

Take regular breaks from screens, especially during prolonged study or social media sessions.

Use the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds to reduce eye strain.

  1. Digital-free Zones:

Create specific areas at home where you don’t allow yourself to get on your digital devices, such as during meals or in the bedroom before bedtime.

  1. Daily Exercise:

Make sure you are getting daily physical activity and socializing with people in person so you have a healthy balance between screen time and real-world experiences.

  1. Setting Boundaries:

Set clear guidelines for screen time, so schoolwork, friendships and family time don’t get lost in the noise. You don’t really want to fail or loose friends do you? That would suck.

  1. Get Mindful:

Introduce mindfulness activities such as meditation or deep-breathing exercises to help manage stress and stay present in the moment. It’s not for everyone, but don’t knock before you try it. 

In the end, we live in a digital world and while it offers numerous benefits,it's crucial to not deny the challenges it creates too, especially when you start to feel off because of it. The statistics alone speak for themselves, do you really want to become part of them? Better to face the facts, recognize the negative impacts on your well-being, and get smart so you can navigate the digital maze. Find a balance, build greater resilience, and make sure we are in control of how you use it rather than letting it use and control you. You’ll feel less fatigued just by knowing that no one can be the master of your life and your health but you.

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