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Digital detox aims to restore focus

People frustrated with interruptions caused by their phones are seeking peace away from screens

By ZHANG YI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-08 12:35
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[Photo by LIANG LUWEN/China Daily]

Every so often, 31-year-old Chen Jiawen, a product designer at a technology company in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, sets aside a day for herself called Unplug Day. On this day, she disconnects from the digital world and focuses on real-life experiences.

In the morning, she prepares breakfast for herself while listening to music. In the afternoon, she strolls through the park with friends and in the evening, they enjoy a meal together without touching their phones, engaged in deep conversation. Upon returning home, she spends the evening reading. Throughout this day, she only connects to the internet twice: once for navigation and once to coordinate with friends.

"Occasionally disconnecting from the network is like feeding the brain a day of vegetarian food," Chen said.

Unplug Day is part of her plan to combat information overload from excessive phone use and to rebuild her focus. In addition to this, she has started substituting short videos with longer ones and prioritizes reading in-depth news articles or books.

Chen started the plan as she often felt "disrupted" by technology, citing moments of distraction like pop-up notifications, ring tones and persistent alerts leading her to check for new messages, and feelings of information overload.

"If my Apple Watch has the WeChat notification feature enabled, I feel like it's akin to electronic shackles because the moment I see someone's message, I feel compelled to reply immediately," she said.

"When friends gather and everyone is glued to their phones, it makes me uncomfortable," Chen said, adding that immersing herself in social media prevented her from completing planned tasks, leading to psychological burdens and a diminished focus.

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