Think you don’t need a digital detox? If the next few sentences sound familiar, then you might just need to unplug.
You know the drill. It’s 6:30 in the morning. Time to get up, because your smartphone is chiming away.
You go to turn it off, but think, “Hmm. What’s the weather going to be like today?”
And just like that, you’ve lost 15 minutes first thing in the morning, checking your phone for the latest news updates, Facebook posts, Instagram shots and email messages. And that’s just you. If you have children, they’re likely doing the same thing. According to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, children ages 8 to 18 spend seven hours a day in front of screens. That’s an increase of 2 1/2 hours from 10 years ago.
Why not try a digital detox for a few days? Now’s the perfect time: May 1-7 is Screen-Free Week, an initiative dedicated to showing families how much fun they can have while being unplugged. To help you with you digital detox, we enlisted the help of Jess Davis at Folk Rebellion, a site devoted to helping folks detach from their screens and get back to IRL.
Digital detox 101
First of all, take stock. What do you use your smartphone for? Is your calendar/phone/alarm clock/email retriever/Facebook checker/portal to the online world?
“The more power you give your devices, the more beholden you are to them,” Davis said.
Tell folks you’re going offline for a few days, and they can reach you by phone if they need to. Then buy a planner and write down your plans for the week. Borrow a camera if you’ll miss the one on your phone. Print out a map or – gasp! – ask people for directions if you’re going somewhere you’ve never been.
If you have kids, revisit an old hobby or introduce them to a new one.
“Help them fall in love with the tactile and the tangible,” Davis said. “Provide them with hobbies in the physical space.”
Have them join you in a favorite childhood game. “Battleship,” anyone? Or take a trip to the local library. Or get outdoors. Now that the weather’s getting a little warmer, kids will love exploring the craggy trails in their own backyards.
More digital detox tips
Still nervous? Here are 10 great ideas for getting your brood away from the screens, courtesy of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
- Bake cookies and give them to a neighbor.
- Paint a picture.
- Learn the name of local birds and go bird-watching.
- Write a letter to your representatives or senators.
- Attend a play.
- Go roller skating.
- Visit a local park.
- Go on a hike.
- Learn to play a musical instrument.
- Watch a sunrise or sunset.