Word of the Day

digital detox

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a period during which someone deliberately avoids using electronic devices such as computers, mobile phones, or tablets

Origin and usage

The term digital detox refers to a modern concept. The word ‘digital’ has many origins and meanings; the earliest of these is from the Latin word ‘digitalis’ meaning ‘pertaining to the fingers’, though it came to mean ‘using numbers’ around 1938 and then in 1945 the word ‘digital’ came to refer to computers. The word ‘detox’ is a shortening of the word ‘detoxify’ meaning ‘to rid of poison’ and first came into popular use in English in the early 1970s.


Digital detox refers to the practice of temporarily giving up the use of electronics. In the modern world, where technology touches nearly everything we do, it is becoming increasingly popular for people to undergo a digital detox, taking a break from their mobile phones, social media accounts, computers and other electronic devices. It is believed that these periods of digital detox can provide physical and emotional benefits.

One small-scale study by a company called Kovert, a research organization that also sells a line of products aimed at making it easier for people to unplug from their electronic devices, revealed some surprising information about what happens during a digital detox.

After just three days without access to their devices, participants had noticeably better posture, had longer and more animated conversations, improved their memories and slept more deeply. In some cases, people were prompted to make big changes in their lives, such as pursuing a new career path or recommitting to health and fitness goals.

Clearly, there is some evidence that a digital detox can make us healthier, less stressed and more connected to the world around us, even if just for a little while.

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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