Health Department

Getting Unplugged

Getting Unplugged
Andrew’s Article
December 12, 2017

Technological advances have revolutionized the way we live our lives.  We no longer need to hunt and gather for our daily needs like our ancestors did, we can now do all the hunting and gathering with just a few clicks and swipes from our electronic devices. Our society now lives in a digital world. Most people access this digital world through a number of devices – smart phones, smart watches, smart T.V.’s, computers, and, tablets to name a few. Many depend on the digital world to provide them updates through email, news and social media feeds.

There are certainly advantages to the advancement of technology. Many people feel technology has allowed for them to do more with their time. We no longer have to wait in long lines to pay our electricity or phone bills. We have replaced our handwritten letters with emails, instant messaging and text messages. Shopping online has now become the preferred method of buying goods. With companies like Amazon, we can now purchase pretty much anything, including groceries, do our birthday, anniversary, back-to-school, holiday shopping, and, have it shipped and delivered all through the use of our personal devices.

It is amazing how much the digital world has given us access to.  We can watch movies, YouTube videos, and, even spy on our children with a webcam while we are at work or sitting in the next room. The internet also has expanded our access to infinite amounts of information.  We can learn about any subject you can think of and even take classes all online. When we are in doubt, many of us will simply just Google it.  Advances in technology have also allowed us to have a greater connection and updates to the people in our network: family, friends, co-workers, and our community.

Although there are some great benefits to the advancement of technology, there are some noticeable drawbacks to them too.  Constant use of our devices will increase our chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, neck and back pain, and, dry eyes. Overall, we have seen an increase of distracted people in our society, especially distracted drivers. Texting and driving is the most deadly type of distracted driving.

In addition, there are studies that link use of the internet, specifically social media to depression. We can see this link especially in young people. There is also growing research on the issue of loneliness. Today, people of all ages are reporting feeling lonely and disconnected more than ever. But how can we feel disconnected when we are constantly connected to the outside world? Could it be possible we are connected to all of our electronic devices and disconnected from our lives offline?

We all could benefit from taking a break from our electronic devices and unplugging from the digital world every once in a while. Take advantage of this holiday season to disconnect from our many devices to reconnect with your friends, family, and, allow time for you to practice some self-care.  Starting anything new can be challenging, so here are some ideas you can try out with your love ones.

Tips for a Successful Digital Detox this Holiday Season

  • Start small. Going cold-turkey can be extremely challenging for many people. The “Fear of Missing Out,” FOMO, is very real, especially for young people. Try unplugging for an hour a day and then add to it. You might even work up to, “Facebook Free Fridays!” You can also make it a family challenge with fun rewards.
  • Make meal time family time. Many constantly feel as if there are not enough hours in a day to do everything. We will always desire for both quantity and quality time with the people we love. Quantity time together creates a safe environment for family members to share their thoughts and feelings. It also establishes a home base for children and fosters a sense of security. While quality time together allows for families to bond and create memories that last a lifetime. So don’t skip out on either. You do not need to have earth shattering conversations every night, but it is important you make family time a priority. You can start with making family time an electronic device free zone.
  • Do not disturb when sleeping. Everyone knows sleep is important. Getting a good night’s sleep allows us to wake up feeling refreshed and helps with concentration and regulates our moods. Therefore, it is important we are not interrupted by Facebook messages, tweets, and, other social media updates. Try leaving your devices outside your bedroom. If your devices serve as your alarm clock, turn off all your updates and messages before you go to bed. You don’t have to worry; the updates and messages will still be there for you when you wake up.
  • Don’t just reduce, replace too. It is hard to cut out or reduce the use of our devices without replacing that time with something more meaningful. Especially for our young people, we do not want to create a void; otherwise, they will be more likely to not sustain the digital detox. The wonderful thing about living in the Kansas City Metropolitan area is, there are a variety of events and activities families could go do and some of these activities are even free. For this holiday season, try ice skating, watch a holiday play, or, check out a museum exhibit.

Here are some non-technology gift ideas to encourage digital detox throughout the year:

  • An old fashion book
  • Legos or building sets
  • Puzzles, board games, or, a deck of cards
  • Sport equipment
  • Cookbook
  • Stationary set with an old fashion pen, paper and stamps
  • Tickets or gift certificate for an activity (sports game, show, zoo, paint night, movie tickets, etc.)

Remember, technology will continue to advance, but it is our job to disconnect from the digital world to reconnect with the people that matter to us the most.

If you would like more information on ideas on how to get unplugged, you can contact the Independence Health Department at 816-325-7185.