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.
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.
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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- Project Unplugged: What I learned by disconnecting from technology
- “Respect the no”: 3 reasons to listen when kids say no
- “It’s okay”: Why you shouldn’t dismiss your child’s emotions