Do You Need a New Year Detox From Your Phone?

Among the many things you may Resolve to give up this New Year, there is one addiction that could be hardest of all to cut down on. Millions of Britons are missing out on life’s most precious moments – because they are too busy trying to capture them on their mobile phones, according to a new study.

Four in ten say they have not truly experienced significant moments – such as a child’s first steps or graduation – because technology got in the way.

Many people admit they’re becoming addicted, with the average adult saying 19 hours is the longest he or she can be parted from their mobile phone before feeling “miserable”.

Over a third (36 per cent) confess they spend too much on their mobile, laptop or tablet. And a third said they choose locations to visit or events to attend because the resulting photographs will enhance their social media profile.

The poll of 2,000 UK adults was conducted by Intrepid Travel, which have launched a new range of four ‘digital detox’ adventures for people wanting to wean themselves off their dependence on technology.

Their research also unearthed some real-life dramas triggered by technology:

• The student who missed a crucial exam because he was engrossed in a game on his mobile phone.

• A woman who split up with her boyfriend because he was so addicted he took his mobile to bed with him and slept with it in his pyjama trousers pocket – she later discovered he had been cheating on her and he was anxious about being found out.

• One young mum missed her child’s first words because she was messing around with her phone.

Michael Edwards, UK managing director of Intrepid Travel, which has been taking people on adventure holidays for 27 years, said: “We have taken four of Intrepid Travel’s most popular tours and created one-off departures that are completely free from technology. This means no mobile phones, laptops, or cameras.

“On these trips to Ecuador, Thailand, Morocco or India, we want to give our travellers the chance to disconnect from their devices and experience a destination for real, not from behind a camera.

“Without all that time spent searching for Wi-Fi or updating Facebook, people will have a chance to connect with their fellow travellers, the local people and the destination itself.”

According to the research, 55 per cent of people who acknowledge they have a problem are also willing to take steps to ‘kick’ their habit.

Quite apart from the psychological dependence on technology, many have suffered actual physical injury because of it.

One in five has bumped into someone because they were so preoccupied with their hand-held device, and one in seven has tripped or fallen while texting or walked into a pole or wall.

And to add insult to injury, millions of people regularly transgress social etiquette by texting in the cinema during a film (22 per cent), during a wedding (18 per cent), in church (six per cent), and even during sex (three per cent).

Over three quarters of users admit their phone is never more than three feet away from them and they’ve even used it while having spa massage.

Even on a regular holiday, 38 per cent said they couldn’t go without their mobile, with the average user spending two hours of their time away searching for a connection.

Edwards added: “As this research shows, we’ve become so obsessed with documenting all of life’s moments that sometimes we are forgetting to live them.

“Taking some time to unplug and go back to the good old days of travel, free from modern technology, could be just the remedy.”

While no-one would suggest making a New Year’s Resolution to cut out phone use completely, maybe cutting back, or setting aside “no screen" time to spend with friend or loved ones, could be a Resolution worth keeping.

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