My Enforced Digital Detox
Just back from my holidays. 10 days in Cornwall; ok not very glamourous but I love it there. Beautiful beaches, incredible surf, a slower pace of life, picturesque fishing harbours, Cornish pasties, cream teas, BBQ’s at the beach; the list goes on! Did I mention there was virtually NO mobile reception?
It’s weird. There was I looking forward to 10 days of chilling, family time and just getting away from the hum drum of life when I suddenly got cold sweats as I watched the last bar of my mobile signal disappear as I was greeted by the ‘Welcome to Cornwall’ sign.
No mobile reception, no Wi-Fi, no emails, no social media. Surely this should have been liberating? The kids were not better either. The minute we got to the campsite, my eldest asked what the Wi-Fi password was.
So how did we cope?
Ok, admittedly, I was able to get a signal when we drove 15 miles to the nearest town where I did manage to get a digital binge, but we only did that a couple of times. We did cope. We did manage to suppress our irrational FOMO panics. Without our heads buried in a screen we were all able to enjoy what was going on around us, enjoyed being silly together, slowed down, chilled out. What I did notice is that the kids adapted to being off-grid quicker than I did. Even without the distractions of surfing and body-boarding, they were out playing, kicking a football around, playing tag, making new friends on the camp-site. I took to reading more and just enjoying my surroundings, focusing on the now and not fretting on what I was missing out on at home. I enjoyed the conversations I had with my kids, enjoyed listening to their slant on things, enjoyed their sense of humour. My eldest son took to reading the newspaper and all 3 kids got the hang of Sudoku.
Setting a good example
Back home, we have digitally ‘re-toxed’ but maybe I am now more aware of what a pointless distraction and drain on my time being constantly glued to my phone or tablet can at times be. I’m also aware that I am just as much to blame when it comes to influencing my children’s digital habits as are their peers. In the past I’ve joked that my iPad is my virtual Childminder; it’s faithfully kept the kids occupied so that I can get on with things or allow me to have a cuppa without interruption.
Yes I do have a ban all digital devices at mealtimes, a bedside ban and that they are switched off an hour before bed (including me). But I think as a parent I should be more aware of my actions; if I’m constantly looking at a screen my kids will think that is perfectly acceptable behaviour.
Should we switch off and do something more worthwhile instead?
I know I am not the only one that is guilty of becoming addicted and obsessive with technology and our mobile devices. Now it seems that more and more people are making a conscious effort to disconnect. A recent report published by Ofcom claimed that 15 million internet users have voluntarily undertaken a ‘digital detox’ from technology in order to ‘strike a healthier balance between technology and life beyond the screen’
Yes of course there is great value in using digital technology, mobile devices and being able to connect digitally; they help us do our jobs, simplify our lives and help us connect with others that we perhaps wouldn’t be able to so it’s not all bad. But perhaps maybe we should enjoy focusing on the now; live in that moment and appreciate what is going on around us? Enjoy that walk through the park on a Sunday morning without having the need to check work emails?
Step away from that Smart Phone!
So don’t you think we all need to switch off sometimes? Step away from the Smart Phone, put down the tablet or maybe try and resist the nagging urge to check social media for the squillionth time just in case we have a friend request or the comment about what you had for lunch has received anymore likes? Maybe maintain our friendship’s face-to-face as opposed to status-to-status? Shouldn’t we all just try and get over this fear of missing out and maybe just enjoying focusing on the now and enriching our own lives rather than coveting the edited lifestyle of others via Social Media?
I bumped into a really good mate today at the Gym; I was leaving as she was on her way to a metafit class. I hadn’t seen her properly for ages. Let’s meet up? What have you been up to? Nowadays we all seem to know what’s been going on in our friends lives without us actually seeing them in the flesh. After being off-grid I honestly didn’t know what my friend had been up to for the last few weeks. So we arranged to catch up over drinks next week, now isn’t that novel?
Have you ever forced yourself to take a digital detox? If you have kids do you set boundaries when it comes to digital devices in the home?