Is It Time for a Digital Detox? [2023 Study] 

digital detox: new study
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Can you remember the last time you spent a day without a smartphone?


But we don’t blame you.

It isn’t easy to get around without these devices in today’s digital era.

That’s why we’ve decided to reach out to 650+ Americans and get the scoop on their tech habits. Learn how addicted we’re to technology, our experiences with a digital detox, and much more.

Let’s dive right in:

Key Takeaways

  • Around 66% of Americans consider themselves addicted to technology.
  • Every eight in 10 people spend 3+ hours daily on their gadgets for leisure.
  • Over half of Americans (53%) would command between $3,000 and $5,000 if asked to give up their gear for just one week.
  • Over 60% of respondents have taken a digital detox at least once in their lifetime.
  • The smartphone (39%) is the most challenging gadget to disconnect from.
  • Working professionals grow more productive (86%) and creative (73%) in workplaces with a digital detox policy.
  • Roughly 66% of employees will give preference to companies with digital detox policies when looking for a new job.

Technology Addiction Is the New Normal

There are a few things we don’t mind overusing.

Let’s take coffee. According to the National Library of Medicine, 90% of Americans consume it regularly, making caffeine the most widely used drug in the country. 

But how do things stand with technology?

To find out, we first asked survey respondents how much time they usually spend daily using all their digital devices for personal purposes.

The results are in:

the majority of people (52%) spend between three and five hours daily on their devices

That data shows that most people (52%) spend between three and five hours daily using their devices.

Is that too much or just enough?

Over half of respondents (55%) believe it’s just what the doctor ordered.


The World Health Organization recommends no more than two hours of screen time for adults outside of work.

So it may be time to dial back on our tech use. 

Except it’s easier said than done, given that ~66% of pollees said they consider themselves addicted to their gadgets, according to our further findings.


Most Americans Would Command $3–5K if Asked To Give Up Devices

What’s the first thing you reach for when you wake up?

Chances are, you said, “smartphone.”

That’s because our cells are an integral part of our lives. We use them to text, swipe, and scroll.


What if somebody asked you to stay away from all your personal devices for a week? How much would you charge for such forced abstinence?

Our study reveals that most people (31%) would command between $3,000 and $5,000.

most people (31%) would stop using their digital devices for a week if offered $3–5K

That’s a lot of cash.

Over Half of Tech Users Have Taken a Detox

As much as we love our devices, they can sometimes be overwhelming.

They can lead to psychological and physical issues (e.g., eyestrain, difficulty focusing) and contribute to more severe health conditions like depression, according to Medical News Today.


When we asked survey respondents if they’d ever taken a voluntary digital detox, we weren’t surprised that most (62%) answered in the affirmative.

62% of people in the US have taken a digital detox at least once in their lifetime

Below is a rundown of the exact reasons why Americans choose to unplug:

Reasons To Take a Digital DetoxShare
To improve one’s mental and/or physical well-being36%
To reconnect with the offline world (e.g., spend time in nature)19%
To focus on offline social interactions16%
To avoid developing addictive habits and/or behaviors15%
To sleep better14%

Indeed, the leading motivation to disconnect is to enhance one’s mental and/or physical well-being (36%). 

It’s followed by the desire to reconnect with the offline world at 19%.


If you’ve ever taken a digital detox, what was your primary motivation for it? Let us know in the comment section below. 

Keeping Devices Out of Reach Is the Top Way To Break From the Digital World

You might think a digital detox implies pulling the plug on gadgets entirely.


It’s not the only way.

Our results show that the most common approach to managing tech use is keeping one’s devices out of reach (23.5%).

The most common way to cut down on tech use is keeping one’s devices out of reach: 23.5%

Here’s also a list of other techniques Americans use to reduce screen time, ranked by popularity:

How Do You Typically Cut Back on Tech Use?Share
Keep one’s devices out of reach23.5%
Adjust one’s settings to limit certain apps20.9%
Schedule time away from screens throughout the day19.9%
Mute notifications19.3%
Turn off digital devices at a specific time18.5%
Create no-tech areas at home17.2%
Log out of social networks16.4%
Replace one’s smartphone with a simple cell phone that can’t support apps16.1%
Delete certain apps13.6%

The Smartphone Is the Most Challenging Device To Disconnect From

Not all gadgets are created equal. 

Take stock of all your devices, and you’ll likely find that one piece of technology is particularly difficult to put down: your iPhone or Android.

Our survey results prove it:

the smartphone was voted the most challenging device to disconnect from, with 40% of the vote

That’s not exactly a shocker.

After all, the average American checks their phone 96 times per day, or once every 10–12 minutes, based on Zippia’s data.

That’s a lot.

A Detox Lowers Stress and Anxiety

Unplugging from technology is no easy feat. 


Its positive effects could be worth their weight in gold.

To see if that’s the case, we asked survey takers what positive effects they noticed after their most recent detox AND how long they lasted.

Here’s what we found:

“reduced stress and anxiety” was voted the most common positive effect of taking a digital detox at 24%

The chart shows that a digital detox helps reduce stress and anxiety (23.7%) and improves the quality of social interactions (20.3%). 

The not-so-good news?

Most respondents (43%) also reported that the positive effects of unplugging usually last 2–3 days. 

That’s little time to reap the benefits.

So it’s a good idea to cement occasional detoxing into our everyday routines to keep the positive impact going.

Social Pressure Is the Most Common Downside of a Detox

Every coin has two sides.

As we’ve just seen, digital detoxes can help keep stress and anxiety levels in check and up the quality of social interactions.


They also come with potential downsides:

social pressure was voted the most common adverse effect of digital detoxes at 24%

As you can see, social pressure (23.5%) and the inability to keep up with current trends (20.4%) top the list.

That’s something to consider before you hit the “unplug” button.

A Technology Detox at Work: Everything You Need To Know

In our last section, we want to focus on a workplace digital detox.

Such a policy promotes device breaks through no-tech meetings, leaving work laptops in the office when the clock strikes 5 PM and more.


We turned to survey respondents whose employers had adopted the policy and asked them if they were satisfied with it.

The results are in:

over 80% of respondents say they’re either happy or very happy about their company’s workplace digital detox policy

Our research shows that over 80% of Americans are happy or very happy about the policy. So much so that 66% of respondents later indicated they’d prefer employers with a robust digital detox policy in the future.


As a follow-up, we asked survey takers how their organization goes about a digital detox.

Let’s have a look at the answers:

How Does Your Company Go About a Digital Detox?Share
Encourages staff to leave devices (e.g., work laptops) in the office when going home17.9%
Limits access to email and team chat apps17%
Promotes turning off notifications16.2%
Introduces activities to help employees disconnect from digital devices (e.g., yoga classes)15.9%
Encourages one-screen limits, screen breaks, and tech-free windows15.7%
Restricts or blocks access to social media12.2%
Holds no-tech meetings9.9%

Finally, we wanted to examine if rolling out a workplace digital detox policy comes with an added bonus in the form of improved productivity or creativity.

So we asked Americans to indicate how much they agree OR disagree with the following statements: “A workplace digital detox increases my productivity” and “A digital detox policy at work enhances my creativity.”

Here’s what the data revealed:

86% of employees say a workplace digital detox policy makes them more productive, and another 73% claim it enhances their creativity

Sounds too good to be true? 

While a digital detox is by no means an antidote to low productivity or lack of creativity, there are several reasons why it can be valuable. 

Take, for instance, the idea of encouraging staff to leave laptops in the office when going home. 

It’s something that SoftGrid Computers (a software company) does. Once the workday ends, a message pops up on the employees’ computer screens that reads, 

“Your shift time is over. The office system will shut down in 10 mins. PLEASE GO HOME!”

This initiative has come to public attention thanks to a now-viral LinkedIn post shared by one of the company’s new hires, which has raked up over 434K likes (as of writing).


There’s no empirical evidence this approach has yielded a boost in productivity or creativity.

But it’s not hard to see how striking a better work-life balance can positively affect job performance.

So employers, take note!

Stacking It All Up

There you have it:

A comprehensive look at Americans’ tech habits and their experiences with a digital detox.


Have you ever taken a digital detox? How did you manage your tech use?

Let us know in the comments below.


We conducted an online survey of 656 US respondents via a bespoke online polling tool in February 2023.

The respondents were 52.4% male, 47.5% female, and 0.1% identified as other. 20.4% of respondents were 26 or younger, 34% were 27–35, 14.7% were 36–42, 23.5% were 43–58, and 7.3% were 59 or older.

This survey has a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of 4%. Given the gender and age makeup of our sample size, the study’s findings are statistically significant for the population at large.

This study was created through multiple research steps, crowdsourcing, and surveying. Data scientists reviewed all survey participants’ responses for quality control. ​​The survey also had an attention-check question.

Fair Use Statement

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