Does Your Family Need a Digital Detox?
Technology has made our family lives easier in many ways. We have access to unlimited information at our fingertips. We receive photos and updates from our children’s teachers throughout the day, and we can communicate freely with family members on the other side of the globe.
Yet, without balance and moderation, technology can have unwanted effects on health and family life.
You may worry your kids spend too much time in front of their devices at the expense of playing outside, nurturing friendships, expressing their creativity, and strengthening family connections. Screen time may also contribute to sleep issues. Studies show the blue light from digital devices can disrupt the body clock.
Taking a break is an excellent way to hit the reset button and start over fresh with healthier habits. If you feel too much technology is becoming an issue, disconnecting to reconnect can help.
What Is a Digital Detox?
A digital detox is a set period of time, during which you agree to limit the use of your digital devices or refrain from using them completely. The scope and the duration of your digital detox depends on what’s practical for your family. You can decide to let go of all electronics for a day, a weekend, or a week, or you can choose to allow devices only for study and urgent communications.
Your digital detox will be most effective if it includes everyone, not just the children. The old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do,” does not work in parenting. Children look up to their parents to model behavior for them, not explain it in words. They need to feel secure and important, and 32 percent of children state that they feel unimportant when their parents use their phones during family time.
Why Do a Family Digital Detox?
Here are just some of the reasons why a family digital detox is a good idea.
- Reconnect: A fascinating study took a group of people into the Moroccan desert without technology and found that “unplugging” fosters relationships. Participants remembered more details about each other, looked more into each other’s eyes and had engaging conversations.
- Get more active: Taking time away from your digital devices is an excellent opportunity to head outside and move.
- Reclaim sleep for yourself and for your children: With nothing to distract you, you can make an easy transition to an earlier bedtime and the quality of sleep is likely to improve for the whole family.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Family meeting time! Make sure you talk about the decision to have a digital detox with everyone. Communicate to your kids clearly what you are doing and make it sound exciting. Your digital detox is not a punishment, it is an exhilarating experience, during which you get to do special things together that you do not usually do. Decide what these special things are and get the children involved in mapping out their technology-free adventure.
Need some ideas for what to do during your “unplugged’ time?
- Go camping. Enjoy walking in nature, watching wildlife, playing sports with your kids, and roasting marshmallows at the campfire.
- Play outside. Spend time at the local park throwing the ball, riding bikes, climbing trees, or flying a kite. Discover new parks in your area and beyond.
- Get creative. Pick a project or two to get started, but then allow your children to take the lead and create their own crafts and games. The lack of constant stimulation will encourage them to be more creative and, before you know it, you will be laughing, exploring, and feeling in awe of your kids’ wealth of ideas.
- Organize a playdate. Take this opportunity to get to know your children’s friends and their families.
- Read paper books, break out your analog music collection, and look through family photo albums together.
- Head to the kitchen and try making a new recipe as a family. Let the kids pick the dish.
- Visit grandparents and give them your full attention; they will love it.
Choose Healthy Digital Habits Going Forward
Your whole family will feel reconnected with each other and reenergized after your digital detox. Don’t give up on this feeling once the detox is over! Bring balance into your daily life and create new habits that will support your wellbeing and your relationships.
Decide as a family how much technology use is practical for you and set up schedules for each family member. Use tools like TechDen™ to make managing those schedules easy. TechDen™ will give you a place to store your devices safely and out of sight when you are not using them to make sure that once you are done, you are available for the people you love.
The TechDen screen time app provides you with gentle reminders of the device time your family agreed on, encouraging you to switch off at the right time.
Set up rewards for yourselves, you deserve them. Celebrate your successes with a family trip to the zoo, a movie night, or something else that you have always wanted to do together!