Issue 11: The Extreme Lengths of Digital Detoxing
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Issue 11: The Extreme Lengths of Digital Detoxing

Trending now (and has been for a long time): digital detoxes. Thanks to the modernization of our world, our tech addiction and battle against it is a constant subject of debate. In this issue of The Slow Scroll, we're diving into all the extreme and absurd ways we try to detox from technology and chat with Oakland-based chiropractor Dr. Finnegan about the 'text-neck' phenomenon. Read on for more!

Fake Apps For Your Compulsive Checking + More Extreme Detoxing Lengths

Like plastic cookies for your cookie jar, Detoxify creates fake apps for your home screen to counter your compulsive social media checking.

Other examples of how the digital detox has woven in far too much in the fabric of our society:

The Three Emotional Stages of Digital Detoxing

Constant connectivity has become so embedded into our lives that researchers (Cai et al., 2019) have conducted a study offering insights on the emotional aftermath one can expect while on a digital detox. The parameters included no wifi, no laptops, no devices, no social media, and no navigation devices. Two of the early participants had to withdraw from the study because they found the experience 'emotionally unbearable'. 

For the rest who made it through the initial withdrawal symptoms (stage one), researchers found that there was a period of acceptance accompanied by a sense of freedom (stage two), and then finally, a feeling overwhelmed by the quantity of missed incoming messages post-detox (stage three). 

Interview: Unpacking Text Neck With Dr. Finnegan

While teens may not be growing horns out of the base of their skulls as previously reported, there are still physical repercussions of our proclivity to be on our phones all the damn time: text-neck. 

We get the low-down on this phenomenon with chiropractor Dr. Finnegan. Read on to learn how to counter the cramp!

When did you first notice the 'text neck' trend—and what is it, exactly? 
I first noticed "text neck" about 8 or 9 years ago. I remember a teenager coming into my office with posture that I usually only saw in elderly people.

She really had no strength in her neck, and her upper back, shoulders, and chest were extremely tight. The muscles at the base of her skull were spasmed. She was experiencing constant headaches and neck pain. We traced the source back to the fact that she was looking down at her phone for hours every day.

Text neck or forward head posture is a forward misalignment (subluxation) of the cervical vertebrae. When the neck is forward, the center of gravity is shifted forward, putting extra stress on the neck, shoulders, and mid back, leading to early wear and tear on the cervical vertebrae and spinal discs. This problem is mainly due to poor computer and mobile ergonomics as sadly, Americans devote, on average, 10 hours a day to screen time. 

Are there certain age groups or types more susceptible to text neck? 
Teenagers are more susceptible to permanent changes in their spines. Their bones are still soft and therefore, the changes in their spines will last the rest of their lives. Older adults are more subject to immediate pain from text neck. Usually it's coupled with an old trauma or another repetitive stress that together, lead to pain. Women are more susceptible simply because they have less musculature around their necks than men and therefore less of a bracing system.

"To counter text neck, obviously limit screen time. We all need to do that. But also, in a nutshell, move around when you're at the computer: sit, stand, take breaks. Make sure the middle of your screen is at eye level. Sit on a fit ball."

How can you identify text neck, and what are some tips to counter it? 
One way for a person to identify text neck is pain at the base of the skull that radiates into one or both trapezius muscles (upper back and shoulder areas). They may also notice that their head is forward and that they're developing a bump at the top of their upper back. This is due to more rounding in the upper back as the head pulls it forward. 

To counter text neck, obviously limit screen time. We all need to do that. But also, in a nutshell, move around when you're at the computer: sit, stand, take breaks. Make sure the middle of your screen is at eye level. Sit on a fit ball.

Lift your phone up so you can look at it with a neutral neck. Keep your shoulders down and tuck your elbows into your sides so that your shoulders can be relaxed.

What tips would you offer our audience on how to have a healthier relationship with tech? 
As I said before, we should all limit tech time. I just started using the "screen time" limitations on my iPhone. I have mine set to 20 minutes a day for all social networking sites. It also allows me to set up times that I don't want to be on my phone at all, like after 10pm. 

I think we all need to realize that tech highly addictive and is probably making us more unhappy. We need to make an effort to get outside more and have real conversations and interactions in which we put our phones away. And obviously, we need to exercise more. If you're going to be on the computer or the phone all day, realize you need strong muscles to do so, or you'll end up hurting yourself.

Thank you, Dr. Finnegan! Check out her blog for tips on the best computer ergonomics and advice on whether you should sit or stand at work

As always, thank you for your time and attention. Please feel free to email us your thoughts on what you see here!
Send this to a friend who needs to slow down. Then grab a cup of coffee with them.

Why ‘The Slow Scroll’?

Social Isolation is Killing Us. Tech companies are failing us. And we’re all hopelessly addicted to our screens.

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