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Digital detox: Celebrities are trying to curb their digital addiction, so why can’t we?

It’s easy to get excited about smartphones but there are times one needs to wind down and restrict device usage

Mathures Paul Published 01.03.24, 07:12 AM
Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber

It’s easy to get excited about smartphones but there are times one needs to wind down and restrict device usage. Smartphone manufacturers are now offering fast-charging to the point you can juice up the battery in 20-odd minutes so that you are connected all the time. Many youngsters no longer charge their phones at night while sleeping. And don’t even get me started about social media addiction. The truth is that many celebrities are trying to curb their social media habits but not us.

Justin Bieber


Justin Bieber had a meteoric rise thanks to YouTube. That was a long time ago. His relationship with technology has changed drastically since his hit Baby. These days he stops working at 6pm so he can spend time with his wife, Hailey. He has a smartphone but it’s not on him all the time. This was done to “limit who can reach him”. He uses an iPad for all kinds of communication, according to an article in Billboard. The iPad allows him to check mails and messages from his team but it’s not as addictive as a smartphone. “I definitely learned how to have boundaries, and I just don’t feel like I owe anybody anything,” he said. The iPad “has helped me to be able to just say no and just be firm in it and know that my heart [wants] to help people, but I can’t do everything. I want to sometimes, but it’s just not sustainable.”

George Clooney

Like Elton John and Tom Cruise, he doesn’t use smartphones and is not on social media. A few years ago at a press conference he said: “I would hope that as we get a little older and get a little more used to some of our new technologies that we move away from them a little bit.” He believes that smartphones stop us from enjoying the moment. “I think we’re losing a bit of our living our life and we’re recording it in a way. Recording it to watch it later. I would hope that somewhere in there we would get less in love with our technology and a bit more in touch with one another and have face to face conversations at dinner tables without everyone being locked into those things. I’d like to get back to letter writing.”

Ed Sheeran

He has managed to stay away from smartphones for almost a decade now. Not that he doesn’t use a smartphone when needed but mostly his world doesn’t have the latest phone. Till 2015, he used to have a smartphone but he found it more stressful than helpful. Speaking to Hodinkee, he said: “I got really, really overwhelmed and sad with a phone. I just spent my whole time just in a very low place. I got rid of it, and it was like a veil just lifted.” That hasn’t stopped him from communicating effectively. He has a laptop and he has an email ID. “I have an email...and like, every few days, I’ll sit down and open up my laptop and I’ll answer 10 emails at a time. I’ll send them off and close my laptop and then that’ll be it. And then I’ll go back to living life and I don’t feel overwhelmed,” he said.


There was a time when the singer was a heavy user of the smartphone to the point she was spending up to 11 hours a day on her phone, a good portion of it reading gossip in the Daily Mail. She unplugged. “I remember sitting up in bed and realising I could get to the end of my life and have done this every day. And it’s up to me to choose, right now. So I just sort of chose,” she told The New York Times. To cure her addiction, she took some drastic steps. Lorde’s phone, set to greyscale, now has no Internet browser. Plus, she is locked out of her social-media apps, with others handling the passwords; and a coder friend even made YouTube inaccessible on her laptop. Whatever you see of Lorde on social media is mostly through her management. The time she saved doing this went towards cooking, baking, gardening and, of course, making music.

Simon Cowell

If we are to accept his words at face value, Simon Cowell hasn’t used a smartphone actively in a long time. He ditched his phone for an iPad, like Bieber. “It means you don’t wake up to, like, 50 text messages you can’t reply to,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “And that’s what happened one morning — I woke up and I’ve got 52 unread messages. And I thought, even if I reply to every one of those, I’m going to get another replying back, and then I’m going to get more that day. And I realised it was actually stopping me from working or living properly, so I just turned it off and I went a month, three months, then a year, then two years, then three years. And I love it.”

Quentin Tarantino

From email to Netflix, the legendary director doesn’t like any of it. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood actor Timothy Olyphant said that the director would fire anyone who uses a phone on set. “If you needed to make a phone call, you go out onto the street and you make a phone call,” he said. In a BBC 1 interview, Brad Pitt revealed that Tarantino doesn’t like using email or phone to communicate. To contact Tarantino, you have to call him on his home phone and leave a message on his answering machine. And he is known to not be excited about streaming services.

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