Following the pandemic, a monstrous number of Digital Detox self-help books are hitting the market.
Personally, I think there is a place for these kinds of books provided they aren't attempting to dish out behavioural science based entirely on a few thoughts inside the author's head.
Unfortunately, books promoting Digital Detoxes do exactly that and more.
First, they assume that technology alone is the problem*.
Technology may very well be the problem, but which bit? Many collective years have been spent studying the literature that attempts to understand links between between general technology use and harm.
Alongside several milestone studies, the idea that general technology use has any tangible impact on well-being is pretty much dead in the water. Turns out that's true for large swathes of psychology and behavioural science. Bit annoying, but better to know than not know.
Second, let's assume people do need to step back from the screen. Tart it up as you want, but it's a behaviour change intervention. So does it work?
To date, there is no evidence that Digital Detox's provide short or long term benefits. The evidence base at points to an increased risk of harm. Not hugely surprising because social withdrawal isn't the best thing psychologically speaking. This Stacey Dooley Episode is called Switching off from social. A somewhat oxymoronic title.
Third, it feels even more puzzling to me that these books are appearing post pandemic. The vast majority of us have spent time using the very same technology to engage with track and trace and various health services. For many, it’s allows us to keep working and stay in touch with friends and family.
And let's not forget that without people sitting for hours in front of computer screens there would be no vaccine.
These books are unbelievably patronising. I used to think that the authors just weren't interested in technology, but I don't think they are really interested in people either.
So yeh, turn off your notifications if they get annoying or keep you awake. Install or remove apps along the way. Go for walk instead instead of playing Call of Duty all day (although having the odd day like that is perfectly ok!). Maybe develop an app if you can't find what you need.