By Elizabeth Milovidov, PhD.
Isn’t it about time you had a digital detox?
Are your eyes itchy, burning, or blurry? Do you have blisters on your fingers from swiping screens? Do you have back or neck pain from being hunched over your computer? Are you checking your phone every hour? (You’re not alone; the average phone user checks her phone 110 times a day.)
Do any of these symptoms of tech overload sound familiar?
If the answer is yes, then it’s time for a Digital Detox. (And if the answer is no, and you are just looking for some quality time without a screen, then you too are in the right place.)
Digital parents: a detox may be even more important for you, as you are the digital role model for your children. So let’s do this. Let’s shut down the technology for the weekend.
A weekend is too long, you say? Not a problem. I have made-to-order digital detoxes just for you. You can do a one-day digital detox, an evening digital detox or even a one-hour disconnect instead. I am certain that once you get over jonesing for your smartphone or iPad, you will feel calmer and happier. And your partner and/or kids will thank you for the quality time.
So how do you get started on a digital detox? Don’t worry; there is nothing strenuous to do, no exercises, no forms to complete. It’s just you shutting down and taking a moment or two to smell the roses, to enjoy the silence, to be screen-free and to give yourself a break from the ever-connectedness that has become our daily life. You in? Just read the tips below, pull out what resonates, apply the tips in whatever order works for you and then report back in to me at Elizabeth@crossinguardconsulting.com. I would love to hear from you. You can also read one detox story here.
And if you have any other burning Internet safety or digital parenting questions, then shoot those over to me as well. When it comes to online safety, I’ve got your back.
Digital Detox – WEEKEND
For those hardcore tech users, go for the gold and prepare to go tech free for the entire weekend. And by weekend, I mean Saturday morning to Monday morning – I’m being kind by giving you Friday evening to wrap things up.
- Friday late afternoon: finish up those emails, posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
- Friday evening: start setting up your ‘off the radar’ alert a.k.a. ‘out of office settings’ on your email and any other relevant accounts.
- Turn off your notifications and alerts on your smartphone. (This is for those who may need to have the mobile phone capability, but not the instant social media feeds.)
- You may want to announce on your social media accounts #digitaldetox so friends won’t call the firefighters to break down your door.
- Just like a diet, plan your meals, um, activities, accordingly so you won’t be tempted to cheat. Boredom leads to surfing and social media check-ins and once you start checking out the mating rituals of dung beetles, you soon find yourself looking at chocolate martini recipes, shoe sales or party decorations. Just step-away from the technology and plan, plan, plan your day with non-tech related activities.
- Use the down time for self-reflection. Your thoughts, not someone else’s. Wow, what a novelty.
- Try something new. Wanted to take a pottery class, learn how to ride a motorcycle? This weekend is THE weekend.
- Can’t find anything to do? Not a problem. Do nothing. Lie on the couch and chill. When was the last time you gave yourself permission to do absolutely nothing?
Digital Detox – ONE DAY
Two days, not your thing? Then use the tips above for one day. Done and dusted.
Digital Detox – EVENINGS ONLY
If you don’t need one or two days of detox, then try evenings only. By shutting down for the evening, you will be able to regroup, sleep better and start fresh the following day.
- Finish up your daily work and turn off all the technology. Sounds incredibly easy, doesn’t it?
- Have dinner with your family. Enjoy the sounds of family members speaking to each other, rather than straining to hear the phone ring, or the social media ping. Taste your food, rather than scrolling emails.
- Take a bath with a real live paper book. Leave the Kindle with the other tech stuff.
Digital Detox – ONE HOUR
Okay, you just can’t make it without checking your phone, so a weekend detox is out and you know that you sleep with your phone, so an evening detox is absolutely insane. Well, how about just turning off for an hour. Come on, you can do that.
- Pick up your smartphone and put your thumb on the off button. Take a deep breath and turn it off. Now hit the iPad and computer and breath.
- If you start feeling panicky, look out the window and check out what daylight looks like. Still feeling wobbly? Pretend the window is a screen and gaze away.
- The 60 minutes will fly by before you know it and hopefully you will have enjoyed yourself just a little bit and can plan for a longer detox another time.
A couple of words before you go: a digital detox is a wonderful way to find balance and reconnect in this super connected, hooked up and wired world that we live in. A digital detox shouldn’t be a one-off thing, like a crash diet to lose 10 pounds. A digital detox should be incorporated into your regular routine, and even if you can’t always squeeze in a weekend detox or even a daily detox, you can surely shut down for a few hours or two. Once you try it, I’m sure you’ll like it. You have so got this!
Dr Elizabeth Milovidov is an eSafety Consultant at European Schoolnet, a European consortium of 30 Education Ministries. She provides support on the ENABLE project (European Network Against Bullying in Learning and Leisure Environments) and other projects aimed at protecting children online. She is a lawyer and law professor, and regularly intervenes as an independent expert on Children’s Rights and the Internet for the Council of Europe.
Click the image below to get Elizabeth’s fabulous free ebook The Ultimate Guide to Parenting in the Digital Age and other great free resources.