On Sunday 26th June 2016 the UK are celebrating National Unplugging Day, which was launched last year in response to our growing inability to put down our electronic devices and switch off! The campaign is running under the hashtag #GoGadgetFree, and challenging people to spend an entire day away from technology. The question is, could you do it?
Digital Detox holidays are becoming increasingly popular, and it’s unsurprising. While at home we often find it necessary to be constantly connected in order to work, check emails and organise family life, a holiday gives us a better opportunity to take a break from all these commitments. Some companies have gone so far as to offer specific digital detox holidays, but anybody on any trip can take the opportunity to have a break from their screens. Let's find out how!
What is a ‘digital detox’?
Quite simply, a digital detox is a phrase used to describe a set period of time when a person decides to take a prolonged break from their electronic devices. Whether it be your smartphone, tablet or laptop, the aim is to cut out all the ’digital noise’ that comes from our constant access to social media, email and messaging services, and re-focus our attention on real life experience and interactions.
Why should I do a digital detox?
Our increased ‘screen time’ and constant connectivity has been linked to several health problems including obesity, sleep disorders, anxiety, eye strain and headaches. We’re also putting our relationships and social skills at risk by replacing face-to-face conversations with online interaction. As technology advances and social media grows, we’re all becoming more and more dependent on our devices, particularly the younger generations. Consider how quickly you reach for your phone in the morning, how many times you check it throughout the day, how much time you spend paying attention to a screen instead of your friends or family. If you feel guilty admitting the answer to any of these questions, it’s a sign that you’re probably more dependent on your devices than you’d like to be and could do with a break.
How do I do it?
A holiday is the perfect opportunity to try a digital detox – you’re generally less expected to reply to things when people know you’re on holiday, and the lack of constant internet will stop you from mindlessly checking social media just because it’s there. If you’re determined you should be able to resolve to do the detox and just do it, but if you need a helping hand here are a few tricks…
Leave devices at home: You’ll probably need your phone in case of emergencies, but your laptop and tablet can stay behind. Remove temptation by leaving all non-essential devices at home!
Delete your apps: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp – get rid of them! Yes you’ll still be able to access them on your browser, but the extra effort of going to the website and logging in will make you question whether you actually need to.
Distract yourself: Make sure you have something to fill your time with so you’re less likely to get bored and reach for your phone. Plan activities and day trips, or if you’re just lying on the beach have a book or magazine to hand. You can even leave your phone at the hotel – nobody likes sand in their phone anyway…
Install a blocker app: There are a choice of apps that block social notifications, stop you from accessing particular apps, count the minutes you spend on social media, or a combination of the above. Try something like OffTime or Flipd (free) or gamify your detox with Forest (£1.49).
I’ve finished my detox – now what?
If you manage to stay off technology for the time frame you set then well done! But it would be a waste to tick it off your to-do list and go straight back to your devices without a second thought. Consider how you felt during your detox, and what you’ve learned. Chances are when you end your detox and check your messages you won’t have missed anything critical – does this suggest that you could limit the number of times you check your phone, or the amount of time you spend scrolling on social media? Your detox could show you how good it feels to silence the ‘digital noise’, and lead you to do it more often.
Have you done a digital detox, or thought about challenging yourself to one? Let us know in the comments!