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A digital detox podcast

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Presenter: So, we're back in the studio. Welcome back, everyone. My name's Rick Walker. From our laptops to our televisions, from the displays on our smartphones to those on our satnavs, we are in front of screens all the time. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to disconnect completely? To choose not to have access to the internet? If you have, you may be in need of a digital detox – a total switch-off from all things digital. The idea of people taking a digital detox is becoming more and more popular, especially amongst young people – and today we're joined by someone who's tried a number of digital detox activities and is here to give us some advice about it. Amanda Vince, welcome to the studio.

Amanda: Thank you very much.

Presenter: So, Amanda, you work for a fashion magazine in London, right? I guess your work means you need to be online a lot.

Amanda: Oh, yes. Apart from the hundreds of emails I get every day, I'm always browsing fashion websites, as well as online videos. I also need to be very active online, especially on Twitter and Instagram – sharing what we're doing in the magazine, interacting with designers, photographers, influencers … it never stops, literally. Then of course there's my friends and family to keep in touch with online too, and for me, my work grew out of my passion, so friends and work colleagues aren't two totally separate groups of people and it all gets a bit messy online sometimes. I think I'm online for at least 12 hours a day.

Presenter: So, how did you get the idea for a digital detox?

Amanda: I read a book about it, called Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting. The author's name is Blake Snow. That book gave me some really good advice and made me think about trying to change some of my digital habits. I started with removing distraction.

Presenter: What do you mean by that?

Amanda: That means turning off alerts, buzzes, alarms or notifications of any kind. I had notifications set up for everything, and it meant I was always being forced to look at my phone. Removing all of them except for important contacts helped me focus immediately. The book also made a really good point, that we should ask ourselves 'Why?' every time we take out our phone. I realised that most of the times I looked at my phone were because I was trying to avoid or ignore something else happening right in front of me. It was an automatic habit.

Presenter: I have to confess, that happens to me too. But what else are you going to do when you're standing in line at the bank or waiting for your train?

Amanda: OK, yes, I'm the first to admit that it's great for helping time go by. But speaking personally, I found I wasn't just checking my phone to kill time when I was alone. I was also doing it with friends or family around.

Presenter: Hmmm … right. Well, so far, this doesn't sound too drastic. Turning off notifications and becoming aware of when we use our devices. That sounds easy.

Amanda: Yes, it's the first step. Once we begin to realise just how much of a grip our devices have on us, then we're ready to really take the next step. First, my partner and I did a weekend with absolutely no screens. She found it easier than I did. For me, it was a little bit scary at first but it turned out to be a pretty rewarding experience.

Presenter: A whole weekend, huh? I don't know if I could ...

Amanda: I think everyone has to do this at their own pace. If a weekend feels too much, maybe just try for an evening. Then work your way up to more. I guarantee, once you've tried it, you'll want to try it again. We're going to try for a whole week in the summer.

Presenter: OK, let's pause there then and see what our listeners have to say. You can call us here directly, or send us a message on any of our social media channels ... oops, should I be saying that? Anyway, more after the break. 



Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


I agree with what Amanda's opinion. I also think digital detox is a way of decompression, and allows us to get back to essential things
We will surely all need it at the end of the pandemic, because staying work at home, on our computers so we spend our entire days behind our screens, and that we can forget what is really important (family, friends, read a good book…).
I think it's kind of a way to be “reset” in terms of digital pressure, so obviously it can only be positive.
Personally I know that I’m too much in front of my phone, but I don't give myself time to pause everything, I think I want to do a digital detox, I will try this.

In my opinion, a digital detox is a good idea for a few hours or days during the weekend, for instance. I am aware that the screens are very time-consuming. A digital detox could allow to rest and have some distance from social media for example. I can keep scrolling for a long time on social media like Instagram. I also often check my notifications, emails, messages. So, in the end, I didn't do anything else.
To remedy this, I have even installed an application timer for some apps, which allows me to lock them for a time I set. But it's not enough yet and I still spend a lot of time on my phone. A digital detox could allow me to do other things such as cooking or reading a book for instance.

In my opinion, I think that it's a great idea and this experience would be very helpful for me. Because I spend so much time looking at screens especially during this pandemic where people mostly use their phones to communicate and to keep in touch with their family and friends so we're becoming completely dependent on our devices and we're wasting a lot of time checking on our social media. And this can be stressful and harmful to our health because this can lead to headaches or red or watery eyes or discomfort.

I should try this method too! Being a student, I pass all my days on screens especially since the university closed and I have distance-learning courses. Concerning my computer, lessons are on Teams or Zoom, so I have no other choice. As for my phone, I know exactly why I spend so much time on it: to talk to my friends and family of course, but also to think about something else other than courses. I have to admit that I surf a lot on social media.... The problem is that now, at night I have a headache and neckache by dint incline of my head forward. Furthermore, during some times, after some months working alone in my bedroom, I had some difficulties to focus. To solve it, I force myself to don’t look at my phone; when it’s possible, I print lessons to work on paper and I start meditation to increase concentration. Finally, I accept now to sometimes have a break to decompress with my family without any screens.

I share Amanda’s opinion, namely, to do several times a digital detox. Indeed, we are constantly on our screens, both professionally and personally This is especially right since the global pandemic, where teleworking is boosted and students have to take their courses online. But to me, there is a paradox. Indeed, we are concerned about the health risks of being increasingly on our screens, but today, digital is a major asset for companies and as a student I really need them to work, to do my research or to keep in touch with my friends for instance.

However, a few months ago I found out how many hours I spend on my phone every day. Although I don't spend 12 hours a day on my phone like Amanda or my classmates, I must admit that I am completely dependent to screens, both my cell phone and my laptop. Indeed, I am on it to work but also when I don't have any specific research to do. This is the issue.

At this time, I decided to do a mini digital detox by turning off notifications and by setting a time limit per day for some applications such as Instagram or Snapchat. Indeed, even if phones or other devices make my life easier, they also make it easier to waste time, to be less productive and sometimes to have headaches. In my opinion, screens should remain tools to accomplish tasks, not tools that prevent us from doing them. However, I must admit that it's pretty hard to resist the temptation to have a look at my mobile phone.

In the future, I would still like to try to have a day without screens. Indeed, I am convinced it would enable me to do more cultural and artistic activities like when I was children and didn't have a phone.

I feel very concerned about this subject because as a student taking online courses, I spend well over 12 hours in front of screens each day. I think a large majority today experience some form of addiction with screens and especially the phone. The recommendations Amanda is making are helpful to me, especially removing unnecessary notifications. Personally I get about 300-400 notifications a day and I think that sorting it out would decrease my screen time. On the other hand, I don't think that stopping using screens altogether for a few days or even a week is achievable because in our time it is a real need.

With the confinement my "watchtime" exploded, having to stay at home, taking classes at a distance, the only possibility to have exchanges was on connected platforms. A bottomless spiral... To remedy this I also stopped the notifications on my cell phone, put my cell phone out of my room to finally work in peace. Having your phone next to you during distance learning is a dangerous distraction. I think that screen time should be reduced to a fixed amount of time, not to exceed it and to be satisfied with it. In the years to come, the development of digital detoxes will multiply. The hyperconnectivity of society will soon have no limit, some people will have difficulty with it.

One of the questions we can ask ourselves is, will we end up overcoming the digitalization of society? We are still young, but as we get older will we still be able to cope with it?

I agree with what the listener is saying. It is true that I am like most young people of my age, almost constantly on my mobile. Spending almost 10 hours a day on the screen and often accumulating several of them. I think it's first of all because I grew up with the development of new technologies and especially social networks. It has become normal for me to be constantly with my mobile, computer... so even if it allows us to keep in touch with our friends especially in these special times, I realise that at the end of the day I haven't learnt much of anything interesting and that most of the content I look at is futile and without interest.
With the distance learning courses, I'm already on my laptop a lot.
I think it's time to try and do what Amanda did and only use them when necessary.
In any case I would like to reduce my screen time, to stop completely would be utopian, especially at the moment because they allow me to follow the courses but to reduce my screen time and especially not to use them when I am with people.

As far as I'm concerned, I can relate to this short podcast. During the first lockdown in March I was spending nearly twelve hours a day on my phone, every day for over three months. Having all the classes remote doesn't help, I can't concentrate for more than an hour, if I don't look at my phone I feel like I'm going to miss important information: like a schedule change, a cancelled class, a reminder of work to do.
So after this confinement, I decided to get as far away from all screens as possible as some days I unlocked my phone nearly a hundred times a day. Moreover I set up a time reminder on instagram that notifies me when I go over the allowed time. These first steps I took made me aware of my consequent screen time. Now, when I work I put up the airplane mode on my iPhone in order to avoid all of the disruptions.

Personally, I am someone who use his phone too much. I am using my phone for 7h a day during the week and next to 10h a day during the weekend. Most of the time I spend on my phone is a waste of time, I do nothing on it, I just look at it. I am sure I am addict to my phone because when I do not look at my phone for one hour, I feel like I have to unlock it even when I know I have nothing to see or to do with it. I have already thought about doing a digital detox weekend or week just to learn the life without my phone. For the time being I haven’t done it but that is, for sure, something I am going to do in the coming years.