On my family adventure this summer, I gave into the unreliable cell reception throughout several national parks from Yellowstone down to The Petrified Forest...and UNPLUGGED.
Surrounded by travelers armed with selfie sticks and eyes glued to their phones rather than the extraordinary sights right in front of us, I looked up. I took a breath and paused. I sat still on the top of mountains and at the bottom of canyons. I relaxed and felt totally and completely on vacation.
I managed to suppress my FOMO temporarily on some "must read" articles about the latest nutrition and parenting trends. I most definitely missed milestones in the lives of my friends, their kids, and their pets. But what did I gain? For one thing, I was able to avoid the relentless stream of political updates. But even more gratifying was achieving clarity, focus, and some time to appreciate being present in the moment. By disconnecting, I was able to connect with my husband, kids and our amazing surroundings without any distraction. I listened and discovered my daughters' enthusiasm for exploring other parts of the country. I noticed their fascination with seeing new landscapes unlike anything they had ever imagined!
According to CNN, Americans spend at least eight hours a day staring at a screen. And more than one-third of smartphone users get online before they get out of bed (I'm guilty). We have become obsessed with constantly checking for the latest and greatest deals, or making sure we don't fall behind in the continuous stream of updates and posts. But do we actually benefit from all of this information? Does it fill a gap in our lives to feel connected to people, places, and things since we can't physically be there? We know we need to set boundaries for kids by restricting their screen time on electronic devices, but we are the ones setting the example. The negative psychological, social and cultural impact is real for all of us.
As the owner of digital marketing agency, I am too addicted to technology to go on a significant hiatus. But in an effort to achieve a better work/life balance, I have set a goal to spend one hour a day with the whole family off the electronic grid, reconnecting in a group activity over exercise, a board game, or a cooking project.
Research indicates that the more time you spend disconnected from social media, the better your mood, relationships, and overall health. The University of California, San Diego, conducted a study that yielded the following alarming statistics, confirming the real benefits of unplugging:
61% of respondents cannot ignore their device if they've received a text, email or call.
81% are willing to interrupt conversations and meals to check their devices.
61% of people feel jealous, depressed or annoyed after checking social media updates.
73% of participants feel that technology contributes to their stress.
3 out of 5 people spend more free time on their computer than with their spouse.
Have you experienced a successful digital detox? Please share your results.
Powering down and recharging for the day...
Lori Axler is a Fortune 500 marketing executive turned entrepreneur, helping small business owners and entrepreneurs launch and grow their brands. Connect with her at Brand You and on her group page, Entrepreneur Essentials.
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