Most kids who are born and coming of age during the 21st-century will never experience the world as it was before mobile phones and devices.
And forget about ever talking them into unplugging from technology.
This makes me a little sad. Why?
Well, because I grew up during the “get your nose out of that book and go play outside” generation.
However, over time, I have become an avid fan of technology, just like all those kids – and pretty much everyone else.
It’s not the number of people using technology every day that surprises me. Nor is it the ever-increasing sophistication of our technology.
Rather, it’s the amount of time we spend using technology on a daily basis that really blows me away.
According to Michael Snyder in his article for The Economic Class blog titled, “How Much Time Do Americans Spend Plugged into the Matrix Every Day?”, the average American spends more than 10 hours a day using electronic devices.
Even more worrisome? We do so willingly.
In this same article, Snyder provides the following mind-blowing stats:
- Watching live television: 4 hours, 32 minutes
- Watching time-shifted television: 30 minutes
- Listening to the radio: 2 hours, 44 minutes
- Using a smartphone: 1 hour, 33 minutes
- Using Internet on a computer: 1 hour, 6 minutes
Source: Nielsen (2014)
Is unplugging from technology even possible these days?
Could we possibly have an addiction to our technology?
This may be a strong word for it, but yes, I personally think the term “addiction” is rather accurate when describing our dependence on technology and how we use it.
Try unplugging from technology for a day – cold-turkey – and you may find it feels almost painful, or at least quite uncomfortable.
Just ask my kids…even mere threats of temporarily taking away their iPads for misbehavior frightens them into good behavior much faster than any other disciplinary action.
Think about it, from the moment we wake up each morning until the time we fall asleep (and all those hours in between), we are most likely using technology.
It’s a part of our lives at work or school, at home, in our cars and everywhere else, too.
We seemingly depend on technology almost as much as food, sleep, and the air we breathe.
Our families and friends, along with our own emotional well-being, will thank us for doing so.
What benefits can I expect when unplugging from technology?
As I mentioned before, my parents, their parents, and even I somehow survived for many years before VCRs, personal computers, or mobile devices.
But now, none of us can imagine living without our Netflix, tablets, or smartphones.
It’s a fact that we have so much technology available and that it enhances nearly every aspect of our lives now.
It is also true that we should make time for unplugging from technology, even though it has become more difficult to do so.
Unplugging, however, is even more beneficial than ever.
And, as a bonus, we may discover something else even more valuable than anything else our technology-infused world can offer us: We find that there is still a real world around us.
All we have to do is take some time and enjoy it.
Joshua Becker shares 7 excellent reasons for unplugging in his article for Becoming Minimalist:
- Powering-down helps remove unhealthy feelings of jealousy, envy, and loneliness.
- Powering-down combats the fear of missing out (FOMO!)
- Solitude is harder to find in an always-connected world.
- Life, at its best, is happening right in front of you.
- Powering-down promotes creation over consumption.
- Addiction can only be understood when the object is taken away.
- Life is still about flesh, blood, and eye contact.
How often should we unplug?
The amount of time you unplug is entirely up to you.
Sometimes, all you need is just a few minutes of quiet time away from any electronic device. Or perhaps you need a weekend, or even longer.
If it benefits you in the long run and does not impact your work, then you should take as much time as you need.
Consider taking a quiet stroll alone through your neighborhood, going on a weekend trip to the beach, or even taking your kids outside to play at the local playground – sans technology.
Detaching from technology, even for a little while, does wonders for your brain. It helps clear your mind and helps you relax.
Plus, you might find you have opportunities for real-life conversations with the people around you…as long as they are also unplugging from technology at the same time that you are.
Now that you know more about the value of unplugging from technology, are you planning a break soon?
Summertime is always a great time of year for unplugging, but you can reap the benefits any time of year.
What are your favorite ways to unplug from technology? I’d love to hear your suggestions – please feel free to leave a comment below!