It is surprising to think that the little devices we carry with us have such a hold on us. We constantly check in on our Facebook accounts, take photos, post them and check for likes and shares. Very few of us go without cell phones for more than a few minutes let alone a few days. The concept of unplugging has become a bit of a buzz word these days and the concept has been explored by tech wizards and numerous blogs. Unplugging or detoxing has been lauded for it’s merits as an activity to cleanse the mind and the soul. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? Is it necessary to unplug when everything we do is linked to tech and social media? Life is about finding balance and it just seems as though in the fight between screen time and living in the moment, screens are winning by a long shot.
The reality is that it’s actually healthy to take breaks from social media and technology from time to time. Many studies have shown that cognitive function and memory are affected by constant social media checking and idle web surfing. The brain is like a muscle. Although it doesn’t move, it does require time to develop and grow after new information is added. We could consider this processing time. In fact, studies have shown that taking a break from screens and tech periodically can recharge the brain and improve memory. Here are some other interesting stats…
- 84% of cell phone users claim they could not go a single day without their device. (source)
- 67% of cell phone owners check their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating.(source)
- Studies indicate some mobile device owners check their devices every 6.5 minutes. (source)
- 88% of U.S. consumers use mobile devices as a second screen even while watching television. (source)
- Almost half of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls. (source)
- Traditional TV viewing eats up over six days (144 hours, 54 minutes) worth of time per month. (source)
- Some researchers have begun labeling “cell phone checking” as the new yawn because of its contagious nature. (source)
I think we’ve all experienced situations such as the ones mentioned during the debate by Dean, Janelle, and Kyle. I still find it incredibly rude when someone is in the middle of a conversation and the other person pulls out his/her phone. As stated above, you may have even compulsively pulled out your phone when you saw someone else doing it (much like yawns being contagious). Now I am not saying that I am without reproach in this regard. I too carry my phone with me almost all of the time. I do try to keep it in my pocket when in social situations and having kids has really opened my eyes to the dangers of not living in the moment. I have been at countless swimming lessons, soccer games and play dates during which not a single parent was actually engaging with their kids or watching them at all. What could distract these parents from watching their 3 year olds having a blast in the pool or scoring a goal? As I look around the field or pool deck I consistently see moms and dads hunched over cell phones and tablets, unaware of what’s happening around them. I am not in a place to judge at all. Maybe these parents are responding to urgent emails. Maybe they are preparing something for work the next day. But, I can imagine that at least some of these parents are engaged in social media activities. Here is another viewpoint on unplugging shared by a teenager named Lane Sutton, a tech and social media wonderkind.
So, I practice being in the moment. I make a concerted effort to be in every story, joke or activity with my kids because they are such little sponges. They notice what we may not always perceive. My little girl said to me the other day, “Daddy put your phone away and come outside with me.” She’s 2 and she is already realizing that with my phone in front of me she does not have my full attention. I realize that we will never be able to denounce technology. It is now too ingrained in our lives. Social media has a stranglehold on the way in which we interact with the world. Even my 87 year-old Grandmother checks her Facebook profile on her Ipad daily to see pictures of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. The key has to be moderation. Take some time this week to take a break from social media and screens and take part in an activity you love without posting the results or waiting for likes. Enjoy the smiles on the faces of your family members without snapping a photo. Get some exercise without posting your workout to social media or fitness apps. You’ll find rejuvenation of mind, body and soul.
Here are some other great reasons to unplug:
1) Leave behind jealousy, envy, and loneliness
2) Combat FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
3) Find solitude (there is value in having alone time)
4) Life is happening right in front of you (don’t miss out for FOMO)
5) Promote Creation over Consumption (take time to create something)
6) Once the device is gone the level of addiction can truly be understood (as we all know when we have forgotten our phones)
7) Life is about flesh, blood and eye contact
Everything in moderation, as someone once said.
-Almost everything will work again if you unplug for a few minutes….Including you!- Anne Lamott