Help at hand for those wanting to detox from technology

June 25, 2013
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In the United States, over half of adults now have a smartphone, while more than a third own a tablet computer/FILE
In the United States, over half of adults now have a smartphone, while more than a third own a tablet computer/FILE
PARIS, Jun 25 – Tired of checking your smartphone every few minutes for new emails, likes or retweets? Do you spend more time looking at your device than chatting to your date? Are you close to a digital burn-out?

Fear not, an increasing number of options are available for those seeking to detox from technology, from wallpaper that blocks Wi-Fi to Internet-free holidays and software that forces you off addictive sites.

“People connect all the time, everywhere, in every position – lying down on their bed, at the restaurant, in the waiting room,” says Remy Oudghiri, a director at French polling firm Ipsos and author of a book on the subject.

More and more people own devices that allow this. In the United States, over half of adults now have a smartphone, while more than a third own a tablet computer.

“This sudden surge in connection possibilities, after the initial period of enthusiasm, prompts every user to reflect on how to continue to enjoy life while taking advantage of their connection. How to avoid becoming dependent,” Oudghiri said.

French researchers have come up with one solution, creating a special type of wallpaper that blocks Wi-Fi, which materials company Ahlstrom is busy developing further with the aim of putting it on the market next year.

Spokesman Robin Guillaud says there has already been significant interest in the invention. Schools in particular have made enquiries, keen to prevent students from spending too much time hooked to their smartphones.

According to an Ipsos survey, nearly a third of French people now feel the need to disconnect, with similar trends recorded in other countries.

Separate research from the same firm found that in 2006, 54 percent of the French population felt people spent less time together due to the advent of new technologies, a figure that leapt to 71 percent last year.

Companies have latched onto this lassitude, particularly in the tourism industry where some hotels and resorts offer digital detox packages.

The upmarket Westin hotel in Dublin, for instance, gives guests the option to surrender their smartphones and tablets on check-in and provides them with a detox pack that includes a tree planting kit and a board game.

But it comes at a price – 175 euros ($230) per person per night.

Other firms are offering more in-depth packages to really get away from it all. The US-based Digital Detox organises tech-free retreats to remote places in the United States or escape destinations such as Cambodia.

“Some of it is marketing”, said Thierry Crouzet, a blogger who went cold turkey and disconnected for six months.

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