By Michael Carroll

Switching off smartphones not essential to digital wellbeing

Panellists dismissed digital detoxing as a means of restoring balance to users’ lives, noting doing so can be just as dangerous as relying too heavily on technology.

Autumn Krauss, principal scientist at SAP (pictured, far right), said banishing her smartphone from her bedroom actually left her quite anxious to find out what she had missed while sleeping.

She woke up faster, but “not because I was necessarily refreshed”.

When addiction specialist Henrietta Bowden-Jones, founder of the UK-based National Problem Gambling Clinic (pictured, centre), relinquished her smartphone, she was reminded of being harangued by her pager in the early days of her career. “I spent years in a state of constant agitation…when we moved to mobiles, for me it was freedom”.

However, to assess if she had become addicted to her smartphone, Bowden-Jones quietly stopped using Twitter while on holiday. She noted the app was unconsciously adding to an already long working day: “I thought, this is really not good.”

After a three-week hiatus she realised she hadn’t missed the social network “which is fascinating because I do look at it through the day and enjoy posting things”.

However, not everyone believed screen time is a bad thing.

Timur Bekmambetov, a film director and founder of Bazelevs Group (pictured, second from left), explained how he has developed a new genre of movie, Screenlife, which effectively makes use of so-called digital distractions to provide an insight into people’s lives, highlighting their various reactions and reflecting what he called a ‘different reality’.