It's no secret that many of us have become reliant on our smartphones in recent years. But if you find yourself mindlessly scrolling and are considering a digital detox, the good news is that you don't have to give up your devices entirely.
Researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany have reported that reducing smartphone use to just one hour per day can alter usage habits and also have benefits to mental health.
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"We found that both completely giving up the smartphone and reducing its daily use by one hour had positive effects on the lifestyle and wellbeing of the participants," Dr Julia Brailovskaia explained. "In the group who reduced use, these effects even lasted longer and were thus more stable than in the abstinence group."
For the study, the researchers recruited over 600 people and divided them randomly into three groups. A third of the participants put their smartphone aside for a week, a third reduced the amount of time they used their device by one hour a day, and the others didn't change their behaviour at all.
Accordingly, the team discovered that the one-week intervention had an impact on device usage in the long term, as even four months after the end of the experiment, the members of the abstinence group used their smartphone, on average, 38 minutes less per day than before. The group who had spent one hour less per day with the smartphone during the experiment used it as much as 45 minutes less per day after four months than before.
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The experts claimed that participants reported an increase in life satisfaction and time spent being physically active, and a decrease in levels of depression, anxiety, and smoking.
"It's not necessary to completely give up the smartphone to feel better," concluded Dr Brailovskaia.
"There may be an optimal daily usage time."