The deeper you dive into news, world events, weather, cute cat and dog videos, blog posts and tutorials of projects you’ll simply never have time to accomplish, the more confused and disorientated you seem to be about finding your place and meaning in the world?
In recent years it has become all too easy to embrace technology. It’s cheap, entertaining, and it gives us something to do. Gadgets even act as babysitters while us adults are engaged in something “social”. We stay online far more hours than we should to stay connected, when in fact it is our real life relationships that need tending to. Perhaps, like all things novel, we have taken this love for the screen, too far, too fast.
The statistics of how much time we spend online are staggering!
We are not only looking at the amount of time that adults spend on their smartphones, kids are equally in danger of missing out on life beyond the screen.
Take the following into consideration and reflect upon your own usage of digital time: UK adults average 8 hours and 41 minutes a day staring at screens. Be this for work or pleasure, it is a generous amount of time that could be spent doing other, more meaningful activities.
At the same time, children are spending an average of 6 and a half hours a day searching for happiness behind buttons. A fraction of onscreen time may be spent doing schoolwork, which may be useful for learning, but the rest is up to the conscience of the individual. However, more important than looking at how much time kids are computer-/iPad-/phone-bound, why not investigate the real life experiences that they are missing out on?
“Give children plenty of time and space to unplug and they will find other activities to do”
Technology keeps us distracted, but it does not prevent us from being bored.
Eventually there comes a point in your digital life when far too many beeps, pings and email notifications become an intrusion in your private life. And the digital intoxication keeps coming, so long as our batteries are fully charged - and they usually are.
We, humans, can still outsmart our smartphones though. We must first realize that a digital addiction is harmful in the long - and short - run, and that internet addiction is a real thing.
Luckily there is an “off” button that we can press when the anxiety, overwhelm and frustration of a life lived online becomes too much. In common terms it is called a digital detox, but really it is a freedom to live once again in the physical world.
There are many ways to go about a digital detox. You can simply refrain from checking your phone after a certain time at night, or resist the temptation to log on for at least an hour after waking in the morning while you treat yourself to a steaming cup of tea or coffee and a nutritious breakfast - in quiet, without a distracting screen.
A digital detox could take the course of a day, an entire weekend, or even a week!
And it pays to get kids involved in a digital detox too, as they need the screen-free time just as much, if not more, than you do. Give children plenty of time and space to unplug and they will find other activities to do. They may even have meaningful moments to discover a new hobby, to further develop handicraft skills or to adventure outside in nature. Their world suddenly opens up when they take their eyes off the screen.
While it is entirely possible to have a digital detox on your own, a digital detox where everyone is on board is the best, because time spent together is time well spent. Strive for at least one day a week offline together to strengthen your family bonds.
Keep in mind that a family digital detox need not be a burden, there are plenty of ways to make it both fun and educational for kids and grown-ups alike. Start slow, and work your way up to longer hours spent without a screen and the benefits of a digital detox will start rolling in.
In pursuit of a digital detox day that everyone will love, know that the first few times it may be met with slight resistance. Keep pushing. Digital detox days are definitely worth it. Think of all the memories that you can make while hiking, gardening, playing in the woods, baking, or reading together.
Above all, lead by example. If you are not busying yourself behind a screen, your kids will take note of your presence and become more involved in conversations and in family life. Embrace the hum of nature, rather than the buzz of wi-fi, for an extended period every week, and discover a more relaxed version of you, and of your children too.
CHECK OUT itstimetologoff.com/digital-detox-facts
READ Off: Your Digital Detox for a Better Life by Tanya Goodin
Cheryl is a sustainable life designer, experienced gardener and homesteader who spends generous amounts of time offline. Read more of her writings at forestcreekmeadows.com
WHY DO IT?
- Increase your child’s sense of self-sufficiency and self-worth by unplugging from the competition of social media
- Encourage kids to get active and spend more time outside as they expand their physical capabilities
- Reestablish the use of eye contact and listening skills to develop and nurture relationships
- Amplify your productivity and creativity by limiting distractions
- Promote healthier eating habits and embrace conscious eating
Try one, or all three, of these family digital detoxes and let technology take the back seat:
- DIGITAL DETOX EVENINGS - keep away from the television and Netflix in the evenings and play an engaging board game with your children instead. Screens emit a blue light which affects sleep patterns and leads to lower levels of melatonin, thus causing us to stay awake for longer - in turn this leads to a lack of sleep and tiredness in the mornings. Rather than reading an e-book in bed, delve into a traditional paper book, turn out the lights and say good-night.
- DIGITAL DETOX MEALTIMES - turn all devices and gadgets off and focus on conversation and catching up without phones (and 0 texts) around the table.
- DIGITAL DETOX WEEKENDS - go tech-free for the entire weekend and slow down to a less rushed pace of life. Go to the park, cook dinner and put a puzzle together, play music, hand write letters to family and friends far away.