Digital Detox | 6 Reasons to Reduce Screen Time

Sophie Gibson5 min read#EverydayLifeOutdoors

At Blacks, we encourage you at every opportunity to live “Everyday Life Outdoors”, so much so that we made it our hashtag. However, it’s hard to break away from the hold that digital tech has on our lives. I can’t imagine ever leaving home without my well-charged mobile on hand for entertainment, emergencies and staying connected. But life’s all about balance, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy what mother nature has to offer and still get your Instagram fix. So, if your Weekly Screen Report is making you uneasy, read on for our reasons to put down your phone (even if it is only for a few hours).

Mobile Phone in the Outdoors with a Quote Saying Image credit: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

1. Mobile Phone Addiction Exists

How many times have your parents said to you – “You’re addicted to that thing!” (that thing being your phone), well, there may be some truth to it. It’s been debated in the medical community about whether it’s actually an addiction or if it’s an impulse control issue, but either way there are similarities between time spent on your phone and behavioural addictions. Some examples are loss of control, persistence and withdrawal, so either way, it’s not to be taken lightly.

2. You're Falling Into a Slump... Literally

Subconsciously we all know that evenings spent curled over your device can’t be great for your back or your health but a study conducted in 2016 found empirical evidence of just that. Jung et al. found that participants assigned to a group who used their mobiles for more than four hours a day (vs. a group using their mobiles less than four hours a day) had a poorer forward head posture, more rounded shoulders and had partly impaired respiratory function.

3. Blue Light is a Red Light (at Bedtime)

Recently there’s been a lot of negative press about the threat of blue light, but there are two sides to every story. A natural part of sunlight, we need blue light, especially in the daytime. It makes us more alert, boosts mood and most importantly helps to regulate our circadian rhythm (our natural body clock telling us when to sleep and wake). When the sun goes down, that’s when your phone should go down too. The blue light emitted from the screen keeps your alert levels high until bedtime. So, if you’re struggling to knock out the z’s, maybe it’s time to pick up a hardback instead.

4. Keep the Metaphorical Cogs Turning

Ward et al. conducted a study back in 2017 examining the effects of the “brain drain” hypothesis. Although a catchy phrase, ‘brain drain’ actually has negative implications. The research found that even when participants could successfully maintain sustained attention, the company of their mobile resulted in a reduced cognitive capacity (the total amount of information the brain is capable of retaining at any particular moment). Good cognition helps you process information efficiently, solve problems more easily and pay attention – and who doesn’t want that?

Mobile Phone in the Outdoors with a Quote Saying Image credit: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Mobile Phone in the Outdoors with a Quote Saying Image credit: Image by Esa Riutta from Pixabay

5. It's a Thumbs Down to Texting

Take a look at your dominant hand (permission to divert attention from this blog granted), how does it feel? No, really. The term “texting thumb” has recently been coined, it refers to pain in the tendon of your thumb. Traditionally, the thumb joint isn’t meant to make so many repetitive movements as texting requires. This phenomenon is more commonly found in small phone users. If you’ve got a larger phone you’ll probably notice pain in your little finger as you support the weight of your phone on it. Ouch.

6. Starting Young

After scouring the internet for research studies about the effects of long-term mobile phone use in adults, the results were in short supply. Instead, the focus was on adolescents and teens. Of course this makes complete sense, they are the generation that have grown up with technology. A meta-analysis by Sohn et al. (basically a study studying other studies) found that problematic smartphone usage was evident in a quarter of children and young people. This was also associated with increased odds of poor mental health, evidencing that younger generations are feeling the negative effects of the tech boom much more than the, well, boomers.

Here’s the part where we’d recommend you read another blog or shop our outdoor gear, but instead try locking your phone, lacing up your boots, and stepping outside.

Jung, S., Lee, N., Kang, K., Kim, K., & Lee, D. (2016). The effect of smartphone usage time on posture and respiratory function. Journal Of Physical Therapy Science, 28(1), 186-189. doi: 10.1589/jpts.28.186

Ward, A., Duke, K., Gneezy, A., & Bos, M. (2017). Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity. Journal Of The Association For Consumer Research, 2(2), 140-154. doi: 10.1086/691462

Bilash, O. (2021). What Do You Mean by "Cognitive Capacity?" - Cognitive Literacy Solutions. Retrieved 22 April 2021, from

Sohn, S., Rees, P., Wildridge, B., Kalk, N., & Carter, B. (2019). Prevalence of problematic smartphone usage and associated mental health outcomes amongst children and young people: a systematic review, meta-analysis and GRADE of the evidence. BMC Psychiatry, 19(1). doi: 10.1186/s12888-019-2350-x

Blacks old-timer, Sophie, joined the online team back in 2017 after serving customers in her local Blacks store whilst completing her degree. Voluntary work with The Scouts, Girlguiding and The DofE, means she knows expeditions and outdoor kit like the back of her hand.

Catch Sophie checking out new trails on weekends, and she's always game for a hike, especially if it involves a pub at the end.


Join the discussion