I did it—I unplugged. I decided to honor the National Day of Unplugging by disconnecting from technology for a few hours, not nearly the 24 hours originally called for, but enough to pose a challenge. Right away I noticed that not having my computer or phone turned on freed me from any guilt about sending just one more text or sneaking in a quick computer check. Instead, I focused 100% on my toddler with zero distractions. We were able to play and I hardly left his side to jump in front of a monitor.
I won’t lie though; I learned was just how immersed I am with technology, particularly my computer. I had a list of to-dos—input my expenses into my finance app, place books on hold at the library, find new recipes—that all required technology. These activities weren’t exactly the time-wasting stereotypes of surfing endlessly on Facebook or playing Zuma Blitz online; they were actual tasks needed to run a household that all entailed plugging in.
That said, I took pleasure in the fact that even without technology, I was able to find my own entertainment. This may be the biggest reason among many that I don’t promote gadgets with my toddler—he has many years to hone his digital skills, and the learning curve for computers isn’t that steep. But he only has this one childhood to rely on his imagination and ingenuity to learn and play. That may be why Silicon Valley employees sends their kids to computer-free schools, despite their success vastly relying on said technology.
Unplugging for a few hours can also provide an opportunity to focus on tasks that fare better without distractions. SSBE reader Lil Sophie’s Mom from The Bathroom Floor found herself in such circumstances when she unplugged for the evening as well. With a baby in bed and no technology to fiddle with, she used the opportunity to work on custom orders and bracelets, working intensely in flow without the distractions of text messaging and the internet to break her focus.
SSBE reader Jamily5 from Parenting Past Perceptions reported on having unplugged for a whole 24 hours. While her technology-loving husband wasn’t supportive of the idea—citing it as a nonsensical fad where, when over, we’ll simply return to our gadgets—she continued to play with her baby and find other means to entertain herself. And I do agree that, for the long-term, unplugging all the time isn’t realistic in our lives nowadays (I do write a blog, after all), but it can still serve as a reminder to focus on our families and projects with little to no distractions.
Or we can follow in SSBE reader Sillyliss‘ example, where she describes a weekly sabbatical from technology that happens in her house from Friday to Saturday nights. During this time, her family stays away from TV and computers and instead spends time together.
Technology isn’t so much this terrible evil that we have to rid ourselves of. Computers, the internet, our phones—these gadgets provide us the very means of communicating with one another, bringing information to our screens, and enable us to have some fun too. But as with anything, too much can be overwhelming. Rather than enjoying my toddler’s storytelling and antics, I sometimes find myself wishing for bedtime already so that I can hop on the computer. Perhaps it’s these times that call for a balance, a little unplugging, and more face-to-face, family time. Just like SSBE reader Sillyliss says:
That’s the part that I like most, not that we turn the things off, but that it’s something we all do together.
How have you tried unplugging from technology to lessen distraction and focus on family and important matters?
p.s. Thank you to contributing SSBE readers who offered their stories and experiences with Project Unplugged!
- Project Unplugged: What I learned by disconnecting from technology
- Are you sharing too much of your kids online?
- Playing Bejeweled Blitz on silent mode doesn’t count as quality time