It is more difficult to disconnect than to be connected. Nowadays, all you have to do is pull your cell phone out of your pocket to have access to the whole world right from your palm, anywhere. And this phenomenon is reflected in numbers: according to ICT Households 2019, nine out of ten people use the internet every day or almost every day in Brazil.
But what about when this use becomes excessive and unrestrained? Or does it even compromise “real life”? In some cases, this situation can become a serious problem even for health. Therefore, there are those who rethink and reduce the use of cell phones, computers, social networks and other technologies in search of more comfort and a healthier life.
Taking a break
This is the case of João Gabriel Lira, 20 years old. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the student decided to take a break on his cell phone and social media. “In quarantine, we are so limited and trapped in the universe of social networks that this, in a way, can massacre us”, he tells the Tecnoblog. “This was giving me certain crises, like anxiety crisis and several identity crises”.
The process took a month. During this period, João explains that not only did he leave Twitter, Instagram and Facebook aside, he stopped using even WhatsApp, limiting himself only to e-mail. But the messenger’s hiatus was short-lived: in a week, he returned to the messaging app to communicate with his coworkers.
“I deleted all social networks, turned off the phone and put it in the drawer. Because I knew that if I had the applications installed, I would have an abstinence crisis and I would move. And if I had them uninstalled and playing with my cell phone, I would have an abstinence crisis and install it, ”he said. “I had to get rid of the cell phone to get rid of the networks”.
The results of the experiment were positive both for his mental health and for exploring other opportunities, such as reading more, studying and playing the guitar. But not everything is rosy: the student explains that loneliness knocked on the door shortly thereafter. Today, incessant and everyday use is back to routine, but with some changes.
“It looks like things are back to the way they were before the process. With the difference that, today, I balance my time much more than at that time, ”he said.
Maria Eduarda Luporini is another person who decided to review her relationship with technology. “I started to realize the way I was using, a lot of unnecessary exposure. So, I started to look inside myself and the way I wanted to behave on the internet, and, from that, consume other content ”, said the 20-year-old student.
Like João Gabriel Lira, the experience gave him more time for “things offline” and also helped his well-being in relation to mental health. However, the feeling of isolation also marked this period.
“Staying away from the people I care about affected me a lot. I’m even doing the reverse move now, trying to connect more with these people. Still, trying to maintain my privacy, preserving myself, but present ”, he told the ALSO.
The student still seeks to reduce the use of the smartphone, even though she finds it difficult. She tracks the amount of time spent on her cell phone on a daily basis using the iPhone’s Usage Time tool, and clashes with what she finds. “I don’t know if it stimulates, but I feel more willing to reduce the time, because it is very quickly that you suddenly spend many hours on your cell phone”, he says.
Maria Eduarda keeps all notifications from social networks disabled, with the exception of WhatsApp and Telegram, because for her it is different, since she keeps in touch with people, and not just consumes things. Asked if she used the Apple cell phone timer, which stipulates a quota for using applications on the smartphone, she says: “Yes, but I always cheat”.
The use of cell phones and computers has become almost a necessity nowadays. Whether for work or leisure and entertainment, electronic devices with internet access are present in the daily lives of most Brazilians. But this dependence on technology needs to be seen in two ways.
“All people say they are dependent on technology as if they were addicted, because they use it daily, for many hours. But that does not mean pathological addiction. This is just a lack of education when using technologies, without limits, on a daily basis ”, said Anna Lucia Spear King, psychologist, PhD in Mental Health and founder of Laboratório Delete, to Tecnoblog.
According to the psychologist, who is also a graduate professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in the discipline Digital Dependency, the pathological dependence is nomophobia. That is, a dependency that is generally related to anxiety, depression and other types of primary mental disorders, that enhances the use of technologies, and that can also affect personal and professional life.
“Technologies, in fact, are a channel for representing the characteristic components of each person. They reveal only what already exists in each one ”, he explains. “For example, if a person is compulsive, they will use technology to enter shopping sites, become addicted to games, become addicted to pornographic sites, they will use technology to represent their compulsiveness.”
And how to deal with this addiction?
What to do when the use of smartphones, social networks and the like becomes an addiction? For the professor and coordinator of the psychology course at Veiga de Almeida University, Danielle Belo Lamarca, treatment is carried out through psychotherapy, or even with the use of psychiatric medications in more severe cases.
“These treatments will act on the‘ background ’of the symptom, which in this case would be the addiction to using these tools. Each individual can be captured for different reasons. It is necessary to act in this direction ”, he explains.
The treatment can also be achieved through the Delete Laboratory – Digital Detox and Conscious Use of Technologies, from the Psychiatric Institute of UFRJ. The nucleus both guides the use of technologies in the appropriate way and performs free psychological and psychiatric monitoring if necessary.
“We, at the Delete Laboratory, are not against the use of technologies”, says Anna Lucia Spear King. “We pass the conscious use”.
The UFRJ laboratory still works with materials, such as books to raise awareness of the use of these tools and questionnaires to investigate addiction. There are also physiotherapy sessions to teach the appropriate postures to use these tools and even groups of conscious use to reap the benefits of using technologies and avoid the losses that can be caused by these resources.
The need for conscious use is also noted by the professor at the Veiga de Almeida University. “A good tip is to use this type of tool when necessary. Realize that leisure time, rest can be used without the use of a smartphone ”, explains Danielle Belo Lamarca.