Digital Rehab – Part 1
By: Brad Huddleston
In my previous articles, Digital Cocaine – Part 1 and Part 2, I discussed the real issue of digital addiction. I explained that brain scans of digital addicts are the same as those of cocaine or heroin addicts.
You are not under a dark cloud of condemnation because you have allowed, even purchased, most of the technology your children use. The truth is, this article is about the unintended consequences of the misuse and overuse of technology. I have never met a parent who purposely set out to cause brain damage in their children. Of course, you do have a significant problem on your hands, and you must deal with this issue right away. But the purpose of this article and book is to provide guidance and encouragement along your digital journey.
Many who acknowledge they have an issue with digital addiction will say, “I’m going to back away from so much technology use and balance things out.” That sounds good, but it rarely, if ever, solves their issues. The truth is one must first go through a thorough dopamine detox before attempting to use technology in a balanced fashion daily.
There are three common methods of detoxing from digital devices.
One is to check into a digital detox clinic. The problem with this method is that unless you live in South Korea, where the government sponsors 200 counseling centers and hospitals, there aren’t many rehab centers dedicated solely to digital addiction. Fortunately, many traditional alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers are beginning to add treatment for digital addiction to their programs. So, if one is near you and you can afford it, this might be a good option, especially if a person you are detoxing threatens self-harm, suicide, or becomes violent.
Method two is a digital detox boot camp, a technology-free camp that usually lasts between one and two weeks. The idea is to distract campers from their technology with challenging outdoor activities, such as sports and survival training. Again, this is an excellent option if you can find one near you.
Our focus in this article will be method three. A digital detox should be done as a family because parents are often more addicted to devices than their children. For example, I mentioned in the previous article that globally, the average age of a video gamer is 35. In other words, video gaming is more of a problem among adults than children. And mothers are often just as addicted to social media as their daughters. Therefore, parents must lead the family and possibly even detox before guiding their children through this challenging journey.
How long does it take to complete a digital detox? Please do not let what I am about to say overwhelm you. Remember, whenever we decide to do the right thing, God will make a way where there is no way (God’s word is full of true stories of God performing miracles for His children.)
It takes four to six weeks to restore proper dopamine levels (homeostasis) with no technology whatsoever, including not watching television. I know what many reading this are thinking:
“But my work requires that I have and use technology!” “My children are required to use technology for school!” I get it. I really do. I have a four-year degree in computer science, so I know all too well about overdoing it with screens and then suffering severe burnout. I am advocating seeking the face of God for His wisdom to plan far ahead for a family detox.
Next month, I’ll elaborate on more solutions in Part 2. In the meantime, I invite you to check out my newly released book, Digital Rehab: Learning to Live Again in the Real World, at bradhuddleston.com.