STYLE

Should Technology-Free Days Be Compulsory?

06/01/2011 16:25 | Updated 22 May 2015

I hold my hands up – or I would if I could put my BlackBerry down for more than 10 seconds. I'm a social media addict, flitting from Facebook to Twitter, stopping only to check my email accounts. I've even perfected the art of scrolling through my messages left-handed so I don't need to stop while I'm eating.

With my phone doubling as my alarm clock, I don't even have to be parted from those constant updates in bed – although after I woke up one morning cuddling my BlackBerry, I did get slightly alarmed. Not enough to switch to an alarm clock though.

And I'm not even particularly unusual. Honestly. Nearly three-quarters of us check status updates on Facebook as our last task before bed, according to a Travelodge survey, while 18 of the UK population aged over 11 owned one, up from 11% at the start of 2009, and nearly a quarter of all mobile users are using theirs to check Facebook and Twitter, according to Ofcom.

If you haven't been sucked in yet, one forecast from Datamonitor suggests that by 2012, 27.1 million people in the UK will use social networking. That means you...

And it's not just the latest series of Mad Men that's making its way from the US - over half of Americans admit they're addicted to email. Remembering my sweaty palms, pounding heart and mild hyperventilation when my hotmail crashed for five long hours recently, I suspect I'm an early adopter of that trend too.

As well as being bad for my blood pressure, experts say being online even when we're under the duvet is affecting our sleep, as well as making us more stressed. So if you're feeling frazzled, instead of blaming Christmas, take a look at the technology that's supposedly making life easier.

Luckily, there's a solution – and it's to be found in Wales. Snowdonia, to be exact, where I spent last weekend in a gorgeous cottage in the middle of the mountains, slap bang in the heart of a mobile blackspot. After tweeting furiously throughout the journey, I was marooned without signal or internet for two days.

It was sheer bliss. The BlackBerry was silent. No bleeps, no compulsion to check what everyone else was up to, no possibility of updating my followers on exactly how snowy the scenery was and how many sheep I could see.

But instead of going into cold turkey meltdown, it was completely liberating. The decision was out of my hands - unless I was prepared to venture out along the twisty lane to the nearest village until my phone began vibrating frantically. And no, the thought didn't even cross my mind. Freed from the tyranny of second-by-second updates for 48 hours, I felt utterly relaxed.

Realistically, my job means I can't ditch technology for good. But by switching off the phone, I remembered how to switch off too. So I'm prescribing regular technology-free weekends from now on, even if I have to ask someone to hide my phone and laptop to stick to it.

Own up... could you cope without yours?

By: Cathy Winston

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