Do you remember what it was like to not experience life without being connected to the Internet 24/7? Do you ever wonder what it’d be like to go back in time and experience that?
One family did just that in an episode of The Doctors. They called it: a 48-hour digital detox.
What is a Digital Detox?
A digital detox, also known as a technology detox, is a period of time during which a person does not use any electronic devices. That’s right: for 48 hours (sometimes more, sometimes less), people do not use their mobile phones (including smartphones), computers, TVs, tablets, video games, social media, or anything else that requires a charger or power outlet.
Basically, you switch everything off except your lights.
Yes, people do this… and not only do they survive, but they feel so much better afterwards. They feel less distracted and more productive, well-balanced, and recharged (no pun intended).
Reminder: Don’t Let Digital Control Your Mind
Did you know that Internet addiction can cause some brain changes that happen to those who are addicted to alcohol and drugs?
According to this study in China, researchers found patterns in the brain scans of people who were addicted to the Internet. These patterns showed evidence of disrupting pathways related to emotions, decision-making, and self-control, all of which were similar to people addicted to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and more.
We hear all the time that everyone spends more time on the Internet. Not only does this include parents and teachers, but it also includes the younger generation. More often than not, we hear about how they spend more time on social media, video games, and the Internet in general.
A 48-hour digital detox gives you (and your families) and opportunity to center ourselves. Rather than trying to ‘keep up with the pace’ of the digital world and having technology indirectly manipulate us, a technology detox allows us to flush out our thoughts about what’s happening online. It helps us dictate how we want to spend our time rather than getting caught up in what’s trending.
There’s more to life than what the Internet tells us. Expand your horizons and learn more about your natural surroundings.
Technology Is an Enabler of Communication (Not a Substitute)
This quote is from Jim Stolze and he mentioned this in his 2009 TED Talk, “Can you live without the Internet?”
Talking to someone online is very different than talking to someone face to face. He points out that the best messages people get are those that include a foreshadowing situation that happens in real life (i.e. “Let’s meet up for lunch tomorrow at our usual place.”)
It’s true. When you check your email or any social media account, the best messages to be:
1) Personal, where the messages are for you and you only, and
2) Transitional, where the messages lead to a face-to-face communication with that person.
This is a good reminder that digital communication has its benefits, but cannot replace the real-life conversations that you have with the person next to you.
A 48-hour digital detox can remind you of this, and maybe even help you better distinguish the online and the offline world.
5 Tips for How to Start Your Own Digital Detox
Keith Ferrazzi (CEO of the research and consulting firm Ferrazzi Greenlight) came up with 5 tips on how to do a digital detox in your own home.
1. Plan in Advance
Pick a couple days when you’ll be occupied with friends, family, other activities. You could do it during Eid, for example, when people are more understanding about delayed responses to emails. Get your kids to follow in your footsteps, as well, to help benefit from the digital detox together.
This transitions to the second point:
2. Spread the Word
Hold yourself accountable by letting people know that you’re trying out this digital detox to see how well it works for you. Ferrazzi says, “Get yourself psyched up and tell everyone – post it on social media, make an email alert, change your voicemail.”
Basically, do anything to make you remember that you’re doing the digital detox and you’re doing it for a good reason.
3. Add Something Fun into Your Life
Getting away from your mobile, computer, and television will probably mean that you’ll have a lot of spare time to do other things. You might even get bored at some point.
To make it easier to resist checking your email the first time you get bored, add in something exciting for everyone to do. This could mean setting a list of items like going for a walk, starting a meditation practice, or reading a book. Ferrazzi says you can “take your detox to another level by doing something for your health that you may have been think about,” like quitting smoking or eating fewer refined sugars.
4. Remove Temptations
Compulsively checking your iPhone or Android for updates has become second nature for most of us, and one of the first things we do once we get out of bed is check our phone. Ferrazzi suggests to remove technology from the bedroom completely.
With regards to the family room, make sure that computers and remote controls are far away from you.
He makes this interesting analogy: “If you’re going on a diet you don’t want a chocolate cake sitting in your kitchen. It’s the same thing with this.”
5. Strategically Re-Enter the World of Digital Connection
A digital detox is pretty extreme. It might be overwhelming going back to read a hundred emails and go through thousands of social media updates and videos you missed. Ferrazzi reminds us to stick to our new mindset.
Prioritize and think about how you want to go back into the online world.
Remember that the Internet doesn’t control you. You control your online behavior. You have the power, and you are no longer a slave to your electronic devices.
Conclusion (Are You Ready for a Digital Detox This Weekend?)
Connection is a basic need… and we’re not talking about a connection to your WiFi. A digital detox will help strengthen human connections, clear your mind, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
You will feel more energized and find it easier to do things like going to sleep.
So unplug this weekend, and let us know your experiences of not using any technology for 48 hours.
Looking for something less intense? Try the 30-day Digital Detox Challenge instead. It may help you get more ideas for how to unplug throughout the month.