Whether we like it or not, we live in an always-on, hyper-connected world, where the advent of smartphone technology and the ubiquity of mobile coverage means you are almost always online.

For most people this is a positive; for some it is all too much, and there is a constant struggle to separate your digital life from your real life.

Do you find yourself constantly refreshing your Twitter feed just before you go to bed? Posting another Instagram picture of your breakfast/lunch/dinner? Or just answering one more work email while ignoring your children's pleas to play with them?

If you do, then you are among a growing number of people who are becoming addicted to their digital lives, and can't do anything about it.

While some will simply see this as a minor consequence of the mobile computing revolution, for many it is becoming an increasingly difficult problem to deal with, leading to stress and even harming health.

Digital detoxes

As always, there are people ready to take the burden off you (as well as taking your cash off you) with companies offering a variety of "digital detoxes" for those so addicted to their smartphones and tablets that they simply cannot switch off without help.

Addiction counsellors have already warned that the "mood-altering and compulsive" nature of social media, gaming and other forms of online entertainment could see smartphone addiction become the next wave of illness in this area.

One company which is offering its services to those who can't switch off is alldayPA. From £2-a-day it will take over your digital life, answering your calls and handling your diary.

"Digital Detox is the answer. It will break the cycle of dependency, allowing even the busiest person to leave the mobile behind and focus on the task at hand or even enjoy a restful, communication-free break without worrying about missed calls or messages," said Sue Ratcliffe, spokesperson at alldayPA.

Dot.com Detox

Another company attempting to cash-in on the apparent demand for this type of service is myhotel Bloomsbury in the heart of London.

Its Dot.com Detox is designed to "ensure guests have the most rejuvenating nights sleep" and while the "package" is little more than a typical hotel room together with a voucher for a juice and a pass for the gym, it does include one intriguing aspect.

As part of the package you get an Energydot, which is a small, ultra-thin disc, programmed to "retune or harmonise the effects" of electromagnetic radiation which is all around us.

Electrodot harmonising energy

Simply stick the dot to the back of your phone or tablet, hand the biotag next to your skin and you will soon be rid of the electro-pollution which infects every aspect of our daily lives.

Or at least that is what the company is claiming.

EnergyDots says its products, based on Phi technology, have been providing customers with tangible benefits including more energy, greater concentration and better sleep for the last 13 years.


Ben Ferrer, managing director of the myhotels group, admitted to IBTimes UK that it was somewhat of a gimmick, but at least it was better than offering free cream cakes to customers.

If the gimmick works for you and you feel rested and with a sense of well-being, then surely it doesn't matter? Whether it is actually doing anything to solve your smartphone addiction is another matter.

And it seems to be working. Ferrer says the package has been so popular the group are going to extend its run for another month. "People are getting a great vibe from this and it's going down really well."

Switching off

This issue of addictive use of technology is nothing new of course.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM–5), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association and seen as the bible of psychiatry, included what it called Internet Use Disorder (IUD) as a "condition for further study" in its fifth edition published back in 2012.

But more than simply looking at who may need these digital detox services, the big question is why people cannot simply hit the off switch themselves and manage their own digital life:

Reuben Singh, from alldayPA, says that people know they have a problem, and know what they need to do about it:

"A survey we did recently showed that 70% of people who have a smartphone actually say they use it for an unhealthy number of hours a day so they are aware that it is getting to an obsession; and then 63% of those people who use the smartphone and know it is unhealthy are saying they know what the cure is: 'If we just had somebody to manage it for us.'"

Whatever the reason behind our inability to switch off, as technology becomes integrated into every facet of our lives, it looks like we are going to be seeing more and more companies offering these digital detox services to help manage our digital addictions.