Do you ever sit down on your laptop “just to check something” then find yourself still there 2 hours later? Constantly feeling like everyone is always on their phone? You’re not alone. Research is showing that we are spending more and more time on technology, and specifically screens and it’s impacting our health. Mentally and physically. This is why I am joining the cause and signing up for a National day of Unplugging 2022.
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We can all agree that technology has made the world more connected. This has been especially true over the last 2 years during the pandemic as everything shifted online. But, the convenience comes at a cost.
As more and more research gets done, the adverse impact of the overuse of technology becomes more apparent. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics children aged 8-12 spend 4-6 hours a day watching or using screens. Teens spend up to 9 hours on screens. Adults don’t fair much better with data suggesting 3-5 hours on smartphones alone! Most of that is on social media. A survey from Pew Research Center shows that 31% of adults feel they are online constantly. I can relate to that. Some days I feel I’m on a screen the majority of the day. We all know that when you say YES to one thing, you’re saying NO to something else. Time is limited. If you’re choosing time online, you’re saying no to time spent offline. Period.
According to a study at Utah State University six out of 10 adults are concerned about the influence technology has on their relationship with their children. One out of four wish they had more information about technology and parenting, but don’t know where to turn. Look around any restaurant and you’ll see people at lunch on their phones. Personally I am so thankful for technology being able to keep my family in touch 6000 miles apart. Especially during the pandemic. But, there is something to be said for putting the phones down and being present with the people you are with and committing to unplug and enjoying the time spent IRL (in real life).
Since the dawn of modern technology, there has been concern about blue light, and screen time affecting the quality of sleep. There are so many studies about this, but from personal experience, I know that I cannot play computer games before bed. My screen cut off is 2 hours before bedtime or my insomnia runs rampant. The caveat is that I do read books on my kindle. I think it’s more the constant flashing of information that ramps my brain up (games). My kindle seems to send me to sleep lol.
Impact on our bodies
Human eyes aren’t made to read on screens. Things like viewing angles and screen glare force our eyes to work harder than reading a printed page. Not only that but did you know there is something called computer vision syndrome? Also known as digital eye strain, marked by blurred vision, dry eyes and pain in the neck and shoulders. In our yoga teacher training we call this “tech neck”. Too much looking at screens! Specifically looking down at phones!
How to Unplug
Convinced you need to unplug? You can start by joining in on the National day of unplugging. Quite literally this is 24 hours away from online technology, from sundown on the 4th to sundown on 5th March. But as with all things you can do it your way.
- Duration. If 24 hours sounds daunting try just a morning, evening, or mealtimes.
- Put the phones away. Remove the temptation. Create a space for the phones to “rest” while not in use.
- Unplug computers, gaming systems etc. Make a barrier to entry. Having to plug things back in makes things more difficult.
- Hide the remotes! If TV is your weakness, lock the remotes away.
- Plan it! Don’t “just wing it”. You might be surprised at how often you use screens! Make a plan!
Now you might be thinking, nope this day of unplugging thing is not for me! And that’s ok. But I would at least advise you to do a digital wellbeing check. Look at the amount of screen time you’re getting. Heck, your phone will even tell you the number of minutes spent on each app! And if not, you can find an app for that! Track it, and you might be surprised at how much time you ARE plugged in!
Ideas for your Day of Unplugging 2022
As an only child, much of my time was spent in my imagination. As such I am rarely bored.
- Get outside in nature, if you can away from the concrete jungle
- Get social and connect with friends, whether a dinner, block party, game night spend time with your friends. Make a pact to ALL put the phones away and be fully present.
- Read a book. Maybe the one you keep saying you’re going to read but you never have the time!
- WiFi Wellness. Sometimes using tech, can be a good thing. Especially when it comes to keeping fit, mentally and physically. But use your phone for audio only, to give eyes a break from screens. Guided meditation, audio classes and books. Plus…
- Music and dance. Whether you play music, or love to listen and dance, music is the food of love. It nourishes our soul. Dancing is great for health and wellness too!
- Get Creative. From papercrafting, knitting, sew, paint, drawing to sculpture art has a lot to offer in our quest to unplug. Not artsy? Try printing off one of my coloring pages ahead of time. Heck print them all and make a day of it.
- Learn a new skill. One thing I’ve been doing in my quest to unplug more is learn new skills. Most recently this has been hand lettering.
- Self care – spa night, mani, pedi,
- Clean & Declutter – always wanting to minimize your stuff but can’t find the time? Beleive me we have time, we just get sucked into screens
- Get lost. Forget map apps and just walk or drive and explore!
How will you spend your day of unplugging? Any to add? Let me know in the comments! I’m always looking for ideas.
Remember you don’t need to sign up anywhere or do anything special. Just commit to spending less time online and more time in real life. Think less about the things you don’t get to do online and instead of the opportunity to do all things you keep saying you don’t have time for! Join me in a day of unplugging?
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- Are you feeling a desire to unplug?
- When was the last time you spent a day offline?
- How much time do you spend online? (yes including your phone!)