Monday, October 21, 2013

Give Me a Break: Digital Detox

This week is Fall Break at Rockhurst University. A time for students and faculty to take some time away from campus, academics (and even each other)!  Many campus departments are closed and Midterm grades are reported the day before RU Fall Break even begins. Senior Clare Pickel, explained she likes to take a break from studies and her phone and hang out with friends and family. are addicted to your digital device.  Students may or may not go home, with no classes they are most likely to engage in texting and social media to keep in touch if they are out of town. If in town, some say they watch movies, game and/or check their social media apps to see what everyone is doing. There were a few that shared they will veg out and spend some time outdoors if weather permits.

Are any going to completely unplug?  Probably not.

Unplug. What really does that mean? Why is unplugging important and why should we take advantage to do so? I actually tried to unplug yesterday: Left my phone at home when I ran errands, went running without my iTunes fav playlist (which is huge because I rely on my boys The SamplesBeastie Boys and Deadmau5 to get me through those rugged workouts), then turned my phone off completely from dinner through bedtime. I am happy to report, I survived! I actually enjoyed the Trolley Trail scene, cleared my head a little, and felt relaxed with my friends and family. 

Unplugging is a term, defined by the Urban Dictionary as, "To be separated from the borg-like creation of being constantly connected through digital communication tools." It is so significant that there is a National Day of Unplugging which started four years ago. There is even a pledge you can sign to unplug for 24 hours on March 7-8.  Why? according to the website,

 "We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our iPhones and BlackBerry’s, chronicling our every move through Facebook and Twitter and shielding ourselves from the outside world with the bubble of “silence” that our earphones create." 

“The technology is rewiring our brains,” said Dr.Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse and one of the world’s leading brain scientists. She and other researchers compare the lure of digital stimulation less to that of drugs and alcohol than to food and sex, which are essential but counterproductive in excess.

A recent study, "Always Connected", shared these staggering statistics after surveying almost 7,500 iPhone and Android users 18-44 years old on which activities they use their phone the most:

Here are some more stats Forbes shared:

  • 50 percent of Americans prefer to communicate digitally rather than in person (Pew)
  • 81 person browse the Internet, 77 percent use search, 68 percent use an app, and 48 percent watch videos on their smartphone (Google)
  • 72 percent use their smartphones while consuming other media, and one-third are on their smartphones while watching TV (Google)
  • 93 percent of smartphone owners use their smartphones while at home (Google)
We know we need to unplug, and why, so how?

Here are some tips to help you take a break and digital detox:
  • Obsessed with Instagram or Candy Crush? Delete the app from your phone before you leave, and don’t reinstall it until after you get back. Having to take the one extra step of re-installing the app will likely prevent you from doing it.
  • Read a REAL book. Yes...Paper. (remember what that is?)  Did you know that reading a book or article from your phone decreases your chances of comprehension, according to Jakob Nielsen, a digital visibility expert at Nielsen Norman Group "The bigger the screen, the more people can remember and the smaller, the less they can remember,” he says. “The most dramatic example is reading from mobile phones. [You] lose almost all context."
  • Put down your phone and walk away, for a set amount of time and go somewhere without it. This may require some anti-anxiety remedy, but I promise you will feel liberated.
  • Start a revolution. What to be a trend setter, make a statement, or how about be a role model for someone around you? Who's in charge-you or your phone?
  • Remember that hobby or favorite pastime you use to have or haven't had time to engage in lately? If you spend the same amount of time on that special interest of yours instead of checking email, playing that addicting app or checking that constant social media outlet, I bet you would be able to bring back that 'me' time.
  • Ask a friend for help, that's what friends are for! You don't have to have an intervention, but create a buddy system. This could help  keep you unplugged so you can focus on sharing those good times you want to have with those you enjoy being around the most.

So, won't get shocked.

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