Project Unplugged: Can you disconnect from technology?

Project Unplugged: Can you disconnect from technology?
This year, National Day of Unplugging started sundown on March 23rd until sundown on March 24th. Of course in typical blogging- and iPhone-addicted style, I ended up spending a ton of those 24 hours writing posts and swiping my phone on. I wish I could say I didn’t get the memo, but it’s more like I chose to hide it behind my email window. Sigh… for shame!

But now I want to try unplugging again, and later I’ll explain my plans. First, let’s talk about why unplugging from technology can be beneficial for you and your kids.

Increased attention span
As important and even necessary as technology has been for us, its over-use can lead to decreased attention spans. Remember when email used to be fast? Now even that’s considered slow compared to texting and instant messaging. This constant flickering and instant speed prevents us from slowing down and focusing on a task. We’re unproductive because for every distraction, we need to spend more time trying to get back in the zone and even remembering where we left off. Even doing a single task like being on a computer can lead to mind-numbing multi-tasking. Who here hasn’t worked on a project while checking email, responding to a chat message and typing a quick Facebook status?

Not being on-call
Email and texting are easily accessible thanks to smart phones for when you want to check your email for the zillionth time. We expect people to always be on call, so that if someone doesn’t immediately respond to our text, we’re caught off guard: “Why isn’t she responding?” We check our phones and computers throughout the day, whether first thing in the morning before our eyes are even fully awake, when we’re playing with our kids, or even—eeks!—while at a red light in the car (I’m guilty of all three, by the way). Accessibility is awesome (especially when your husband wants to know exactly how much watercress you needed at the grocery), but at a certain point we have to cut ourselves off from the virtual world and take our time back.

Meaningful relationships
The inspiration for this post happened two nights ago, when not only was I on my computer from 7:30pm to 10:30pm, but I completely ignored discussing a movie with my husband and instead got frustrated with a technical problem with one of my online accounts. Computer time is fine, especially since my husband also like to log online and we even discuss topics we find on the internet, but after a reasonable time, we normally close our laptops and talk the way generations of people have done in the past: face to face.

The same goes with my toddler. When I’m home with him, I end up checking my blog or email. Alone time is good for him, but when your kid is clearly trying to get your attention and you sort of half-ass your responses, “Oh yeah? The red balloon? Wow!” without even looking to see that he was actually pointing at the cow jumping over the moon, it’s time to unplug. My toddler is master of unplugging since he doesn’t watch TV and we don’t let him play on our phones or computers. Now if only we could be somewhat more disciplined like him!

The plan to unplug
I doubt I’ll go back to tapping away on my computer for three hours straight again while my husband tries to make sense of the plot line in Transformers 3, but I still want to lessen my screen time. I plan to do no more than one hour of computer time in the evenings and to stay away from my phone completely while my toddler is awake and I’m the only one alone with him.

But just to take it up a notch, I want to spend several hours away from all technology. From 6pm until I hit the hay tonight, I’m going to unplug. I’m turning my computer and phone off completely so that I won’t try to sneak a peek or use the excuse, “I thought I heard my phone ring.” And I’m putting myself out there on this blog so that you can hold me accountable and I won’t “forget” like I did last month.

Join me!
And for you brave souls, I invite you to join me and unplug. Here’s the challenge: Pick a day this week and choose several hours to unplug completely from your own devices, whether it’s your computer, phone, television, or video games. You can choose however short or long you want it to be (although for this to be even somewhat meaningful, it’s probably best to challenge yourself a bit). You can unplug the same hours I did, pick the time of day when you find yourself overloaded with technology, or follow the original 24 hours of sundown to sundown from National Day of Unplugging.

After you survived, let us know how you did:

  • How many hours were you unplugged?
  • What devices did you unplug from?
  • What did you do with your time instead?
  • How did you feel while you were unplugged—liberated? bored? itching to plug back in?
  • Is this something you’d like to try again from time to time?
  • If you tried but weren’t able to remain unplugged, what happened?
  • And if you don’t even think you can participate at all, how come?

Let me know in the comments section below whether you plan to join me and unplug, and once you do, how your experience went. I’ll write a recap of my own unplugging and include your stories as well. If you have a blog and want to write about unplugging in more detail on your site, you can also send me a link to your post.

Okay, no backing down this time! I hope you’ll join me.

Will you join me in unplugging from technology? If you’ve already done so, how did you do?

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22 thoughts on “Project Unplugged: Can you disconnect from technology?

  1. It is SO freeing to be away from technology! Last night my husband and I kept the tv off after dinner and just played for an hour with our daughter. We didn’t even have our phones near. It’s just nice to be without those things. It’s so much more relaxing!! I try to keep my weekends focused on my family, so i rarely touch the computer and my phone. I’ll join you! 🙂

  2. I havev been trying to get DH to do this since January. I think it would be more effective if it was a family thing. For blind people, though, it also means no reading because we get all of our news from the internet and read lots of printed material that way. But, we have to set perameters./parameters. does this mean not answering the phone? Hmmm. 24hrs sounds good. I’ll try Sunday — May 6, from 6:00 A.M. until Sunday May 7th at the same time. it would be good if we had lots of people doing it at the same time — but logging on to encourage them would be counterproductive!! haha. I do think that we should institute this once a month. Although, I will say that it won’t be much of a stretch for me to stay off the computer: Stitcher and the IPhone is my companion while I pump, though. We don’t have TV, so no prob there. I feel “old fashion” when I turn on the radio…. hahah.

  3. I don’t really talk about it, but we typically unplug every Friday night until Saturday night. We call it our Technology Shabbat. It’s supposed to be a time to get away from the distractions of the computer, the TV, etc., and spend time as a family. Emilia now knows that Friday night there is no TV (she watches one episode of a tv show at wind-down time at night, usually) and that there won’t be TV on Saturday, or Curious George computer games, etc.

    I guess the reason I really like it is because it has become a tradition for our family. That’s the part that I like most, not that we turn the things off, but that it’s something we all do together. 🙂

  4. This is a great idea! I’ve been thinking about trying to spend more time OFF the computer instead of on it, instead of unplugging though I’ve been working on a schedule of sorts. Making sure I accomplish things and spend time with my kids, then plugging in after everything is done.

  5. I did this over Christmas (New Year’s? definitely a holiday) and found it very liberating. I didn’t check my computer or smartphone for about a day and a half, and spent time reading and watching TV and snuggling with Baguette.

    I should add that our family’s TV-watching protocol is not as passive as some might think. We use the “pause” button on our DVR to stop the action and talk about it, and we talk at length afterward about characters, plot, dialogue, and other aspects of the show.

  6. I love the title of your blog! In fact, I was up half the night with 2 sick kids so this week, sleeping hasn’t been easy! It can be a real battle to disconnect from technology. It’s especially tough when your cell phone is your home phone and alarm clock (as in my case). It vibrates all night long and never lets me forget about the e-mails I need to answer, etc. We have limited technology in our house – no video games on school nights, limited computer time, etc. and are encouraging the kids to read and play in more traditional ways (LEGOs! Yeah!). We are still working on limiting ourselves. In fact, we love it when we go to Canada because we can truly disconnect when out of the country and we look forward to doing that next month on a trip to France. Thank goodness for “too high” out-of-country phone rates and roaming charges!

  7. Ok, I have to admit this idea really freaks me out. Technology is pretty much our lively hood around here (not to mention it puts food on our table). I often feel a bit trapped and isolated without my social media. Considering just the thought is giving me slight heart palpitations, means that I have no other choice than to just do it right?!?

    You’ve left me nice comments on http://lilsophie.wordpress.com (which I appreciate by the way), but I have my own blog that I’m going to write about this topic and link to you. It will be http://thebathroomfloor.wordpress.com

    I’ll do the same hours tonight. Good Luck to you!!
    Does it count if I just go to bed early? 😉

    • Hey, any reason to catch some extra zzz’s isn’t bad 🙂 I make a living off of computers too so this is quite a step for me.

      And thanks for the link—I’ll check in on how you did!

  8. We often go screen free from the time my husband gets off work until our daughter goes to bed. I don’t have a smartphone which helps. Often both my husband and I turn our phones on silent and focus on dinner and playing with our daughter. We never regret doing that but we often regret when we give in to just a few text messaging conversations or a quick phone call that inevitably turns into a bigger ordeal.

  9. I unplugged for several hours today- but not by choice. It was torture and I hated it! Isn’t that terrible? However, I have chosen to unplug consciously in the past- and really enjoyed it. I need to get myself together and really do it- I mean, with all my heart- more often. I pledge to uplug once a week for at least half a day from now on. Starting next week. Or the next.

  10. Pingback: Unplugged – I took the challenge « Rising Above the Bathroom Floor

  11. I LOVE being unplugged from technology! I can’t say I do it often (especially when I’m using my IPAD for recipes in the kitchen). We typically are unplugged for ALL holidays/vacations. We have our cell phone with us in case of emergency (plus my mom stays at our house to watch the dogs while we are gone). The only time we look at our phone is in the AM and PM to see if there were any “house” problems.

    During the week, I’m pretty much surfing the web only in the early morning and late afternoon (when my little guy takes a nap). And even during that time, it’s not for very long. I always feel like I need to be doing something else. It could be that it’s hard for me to sit for a long period of time. I just constantly need to be moving.

    I allow my 1 year old to watch TV ONLY when I cut his fingernails. However, he’s been using some educational Apps on our IPAD for the past two months. This is limited to once a day (if that…sometimes we go a few days without reading some of his interactive books) and 10 minutes tops.

    My husband works in technology and I teach technology to high school students. Our friends think it’s kind of weird that both of us are so behind in this field (in our homelife) when we know the latest trends and work with the equipment.

    We still have a giant antenna on our roof. I really don’t see the need for cable. Is that wrong?

    • I work in technology too and weirdly I am pretty anti-technology when it comes to my toddler. We don’t have cable either haha! We tried a few times to get it hooked up but three times the company missed their appointment. Considering that we hardly watch TV as it is, we figured this was a blessing in disguise. We like to watch a few shows but find them online instead. So no, I am with you that there isn’t always a need for cable!

  12. I love Tragic Sandwich’s TV watching. I try to do that and my family gets upset with me. Next time we watch TV, it is at Tragic Sandwich’s house. (LOL)

  13. Pingback: Shocks and Jolts from the Unplugging experience « Gori Desi Rishta

  14. Pingback: Instant Results | justanothermummyblog

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