Happy National Day of Unplugging! The act of unplugging is to disconnect from electronics and social media. I think the hardest device to disconnect from is our smartphones since they are so readily available to us.
Unplugging is difficult because we live in a world where we do everything on our smartphones. We can text, call, work, bank, shop, check email, pay bills, and make appointments, all from our phones. And we get notifications for all of these, which leaves us feeling like we’re on our phones all the time. We often always have our phones on us and this gives the world access to us every minute of every day. Some of us are even expected to be available to coworkers, clients, or our boss, after hours.
Technology is a wonderful thing. But it can also be very intrusive to our personal lives. I think there are a lot of ways we can be more mindful of not only how much technology we let into our lives, but when we let it in. It can feel nearly impossible to completely disconnect from all of our electronics for even one day. But I think there are many smaller ways in which we can “unplug.”
1. Set Time Limits
This can be done with most electronic devices. You can put nighttime limits for your family on your TV, tablet, or video game console. I know some families have a rule that all electronic devices are to be shut off, plugged in, and charging every night by 9 pm. Time limits can be set for certain apps on your smartphone. For example, if you find yourself aimlessly scrolling Facebook when you should be doing something else, a limit can be set on that specific app for when you want it to “shut off,” and become unavailable for you to use.
For a really good way to make unplugging a bit easier, iPhone users can select the “Screen Time” option in the “Settings” app and it will tell you your daily average screen time use. It will even break it down for you by app. This way, you know where you’re spending (or wasting) the most time. I can almost guarantee seeing how many hours a day you are on your phone will make you want to set some limits!
2. The “No Phone” Rule
There are places most people would probably agree where phones shouldn’t be present. School, work, church, and while driving are among some of the most common. It’s also not uncommon for some households to have a “no phones at the dinner table rule.” My family tries to be cognizant of this. We don’t typically text or scroll on our phones when we are eating dinner together as a family. Some families don’t allow phones in their kid’s beds when it’s time to go to sleep. Placing limits on where your phone (or other electronics) are not “allowed” will guarantee that you spend less time on your phone.
3. Constant Connection
This is a hard one. These days it’s difficult to consciously not be connected at all hours of the day. This is especially true when you have children.
“But what if someone texts me?”
“I don’t want to miss a call from my child’s school.”
“What if there is an emergency?”
One thing that has allowed me to leave my phone in the other room for a significant amount of time without feeling like I will be unavailable in the case of an emergency is having an apple watch. My watch will vibrate with text and phone-call notifications. This has given me a little more “freedom” in feeling like I can move from room to room in my house without bringing my phone with me.
Technology and The Next Generation
The world our generation now lives in is so different than the one that we grew up in. Our kids are growing up in a world that is constantly “on.” They will never know what it’s like to have to wait to use the family house phone, or the struggle of using dial-up internet. Because technology has become such a prominent part of our lives, we have a whole new set of challenges in raising our children than previous generations had. How much TV time do we allow each day? At what age do we buy our kids cell phones? How much screen time is too much screen time? Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers. I think it’s something our generation and future generations will continue to struggle with, especially as technology advances.
This alone is all the more reason to take time to unplug. I want to stay engaged and connected with my family, and I want to set good examples for my son. I think it is crucial to our well-being to take breaks from social media and electronic devices. Doing this will provide us a much-needed break and help us focus on our families and ourselves.