I love it when I forget my phone. Especially if I’m with the boys. But I admit it’s gotten more complicated for most of us to leave the phone at home. It’s harder and harder to function without our online resources and phone connection to those we love.
Watch the 2-minute video and read the 3 tips for making unplugging a weekly habit (below).
The Pew Research Center confirms that more than 9 out of 10 adults in the US have a cell phone. More than 1/2 of adults (56%) are now using a smartphone and rates for cell phone adoption start at earlier ages. Teens between 12 and 17 are rapidly acquiring cell phones of their own: more than 75% of teens have their own cell and 1/3 of teens have a smartphone in their pocket. We spend more time with our phones than our friends, it seems. Although sometimes we’re just looking at the bus schedule or our work email, The New York Times reported this summer that Facebook claims 40% of Americans are on Facebook every day. Every flipping day! So it’s not surprising perhaps that although I meant to take the month of August primarily offline I was mostly unsuccessful. It wasn’t until August 29th that I officially unplugged from all my inboxes and stayed off all apps and mail for 4 days.
It turns out it’s sincerely less comfortable for me to unplug. Not only because of multiple responsibilities that require me to be online, but also the way I’ve chosen to live. My camera, calendar, research tools, and phone are bundled together in one device. I find that when unplugging these days I feel more unsettled than I used to, especially for the first 4-6 hours. My friends and peers tell me the same thing. The good news is that in my experience once we’re offline for a few hours the divorce gets easier and easier.
It was the video above that forced my hand to ensure my real digital detox/break happened. Like most with whom I’ve shared this reflect, “I see myself in parts of this video.” Creating formal time offline and apart from our devices is a new and essential lifeskill. This video is a potent reminder why. Most astonishingly, it’s been viewed nearly 20 million times since it was published a few weeks ago. We’re all seeing the same thing in our lives…
3 Tips For A Formal And Habitual Unplug:
- Make unplugging from devices a part of every week. Choose a 1/2 day or full day, even a standard evening, where you turn off and separate from your phone and devices. Let people (at home and at work) know about your plans so you don’t feel you’re letting people down.
- Make Digital Detox a team sport. It’s far easier for me to entirely unplug when I convince my husband to do the same thing. Consider having a digital detox every Thursday afternoon and evening or a family rule for no cell phones from Friday at sundown until noon on Saturday. Surround yourself with people thinking the way you do and enjoy the new silences that appear.
- Physically leave the phone behind. Don’t just turn devices off, leave them behind whenever you can during your habitual unplug. This makes success much more likely.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Also read this about a new movie to move us to stop texting and driving. I’m afraid Seth is correct here when he says, “This Isn’t Going To Work”
Melissa Wood Brewster says
Such a helpful reminder, Wendy. Earlier this year, my husband and I agreed to leave our phones in the kitchen after we went up to bed as we noticed we were severely preoccupied with our phones while in bed and therefore, not paying enough attention to each other. Makes a big difference.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Thanks, Melissa. My phone sleeps in the kitchen but every once and a while it slips into the bedroom….Agree it makes a huge difference even on just how I feel when I wake up and what I do first (ie avoid reaching for the phone)!
Paul Schoenfeld PhD says
I agree! But it’s not just phone time–what about all of the other screen time that interferes with family time? So often I will see a family out to dinner all staring at their smartphones, texting and posting, and who knows what! It degrades the value of time together!
J. Buck says
When we were out to dinner the other night, a family of 5 sitting next us we ALL simultaneously using their smartphones in some way throughout dinner. The entrees didn’t even stop them. I wanted to play this video for them. At some point the positive effect of a family dinner is lost when no one is mindfully present.
That is why I like your idea about BPOD. It forces a little mindfulness into dinner.
Thanks for sharing.
Michael Milobsky MD says
I was profoundly disturbed as I watched my 3 yo daughter grab my phone, scroll the apps, regroup the apps she uses and adeptly launch her own applications. As a disclaimer, she is the 7th child and has been the most unsupervised of my kids , yet the ease at which she worked the device was like watching an adult. It made me wonder what her relationship with tech and the web and devices will be when she is an adult. It seems these things will literally be extensions of herself. All the more reason to have structured tech-free/unplugged time starting when your kids are very young.