By Jessica Born / March 06, 2020

Digital detox: Unplug for the day (and what to do with your device-free time)

Do you know how much screen time you logged on your phone in the last day? How about the last week? (And yes, there’s an app for that if you’re interested.) If you’re an iPhone user, you likely get a weekly notification to alert you of your usage. If you are like me, sometimes that number makes you cringe. How much of that time was purposeful? How much was mindless scrolling? How can I do better?

According to Pew Research, the typical American family contains approximately five connected devices. And average adults spend about five hours connected on their phones daily. “On average, American 8- to 12-year-olds spent 4 hours and 44 minutes on screen media each day. And teens average 7 hours and 22 minutes — not including time spent using screens for school or homework.” (Washington Post)

National Day of Unplugging is recognized from sundown on Friday, March 6, to sundown on Saturday, March 7. This is the 11th year of observance on the first Friday in March and is described as “a 24-hour global respite from technology. It highlights the value of disconnecting from digital devices to connect with ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities in real time.” 

So, we’re powering down from sundown to sundown, and we want you to join us! It’s time to disconnect – turn off or put away the smartphones, computers, TVs, tablets, and gaming systems.

But now what? What do we even do?

Alternatives to Screen Time

These ideas are great for adults and kids alike. And, likely, even better when enjoyed together 🙂.

  • Get outside and move –Talk a walk. Go for a run. Head to the park and swing. Play tag or a pickup game of basketball. Take your pups for a stroll.
  • Play a board game or complete a puzzle – Dig in your closet and resurrect that dusty Monopoly game, deck of UNO cards, or thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle. Clear a space and get after it. A few hours of fun are ahead!
  • Make something – We are all about hands-on activities. Round up some cardboard boxes, drag out the assorted craft supplies and tools, and just create! If you need some ideas to get started, check out this BuzzFeed list or these ideas from DIY & Crafts.
  • Create a vision board – Have you ever made a vision board? Encourage a growth mind-set and spend some time imagining and dreaming individually or as a family. You’ll need construction paper, scissors, glue, LOTS of magazines, and markers or pens. Not sure where to start? HuffPost and TODAY are great resources.
  • Finish a project – Have a few honey-do items or a half-done project or two? Or maybe something you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had time for such as organizing your pantry or closet? There’s no better time than now!
  • Read an actual book – With audiobooks and tablets, sometimes turning the page isn’t something we turn to as much these days. But there’s something wonderful about the physical connection found by holding a book. If you don’t have a book on your shelf (or nightstand) you’ve been wanting to read, head to your local library and pick out a new favorite. Kiddos might even be able to participate in a weekend story session!
  • Complete a service project – It’s not a day on, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a day off. Find a local organization where you can volunteer – serve meals at an outreach center or spend time with the animals awaiting adoption at your nearest shelter. Do a little yard work for your neighbor or pick up litter in your neighborhood or local park.
  • Meet up for coffee or ice cream and conversation – Treat yourself in more ways than one! Meet up with a friend and catch up over coffee or a snack. You’ll be surprised how much time can pass just chatting one-on-one. Want to go as a group? Arrange a playdate for the families! Spending quality time can be fun for the bigs and the littles alike.
  • Share a meal together – I am a huge advocate for dinnertime. It’s my favorite time of the day – good food and good company matter! Flip through some of the cookbooks or magazines you likely have lying around. Pick out a recipe or two and plan your meal. Shop for the ingredients. And then cook together – divvy up the tasks and share the fun and work. When you’re ready, sit down together and enjoy! It always tastes better if you share it with those you love. Or, do you want to go big? Make it a dinner party and every family can bring a dish to share!

    Plus, there are TONS of STEM concepts to explore in the kitchen if you want to make it a hands-on opportunity.

Reason to Unplug

If the appeal of a no-device day isn’t strong enough yet, here are a few compelling health benefits to perhaps sway you:

  • Helps remove unhealthy feelings (fear of missing out, jealousy, negativity, even loneliness)
  • Better awareness
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved focus
  • Improved connections and communication

Want more of the science behind these benefits? We found these articles from Greater Good, Bustle, and Becoming Minimalist.

Now, we see the irony in sharing this on our blog that you’re maybe reading on your tablet or phone right now 🙃. Even if you are, you can still prepare for the day or pick your own day (or two or week) to do your own digital detox.

We’ll connect again soon, but for now, unplug, unwind, and relax.
Status: Airplane mode on.

Resources: 
National Day of Unplugging
National Day of Unplugging – First Friday in March 
Digital-Detox-600-0320

TOPICS: BEYOND THE CLASSROOM, IDEAS & INSPIRATION, Teacher Resources, Technology, Trends, Resources, Authentic Learning, Social and emotional learning, Activities, Hands-on Learning

Jessica Born

Written by Jessica Born

Well, hey there! I’m the digital marketing manager for Pitsco Education. Marketing and special events have been my jam for about the last decade. I’m an alumna of Kansas State University and the University of Arkansas. I fill my Pitsco days with social media management and supporting video and web projects. My weekends are for time in the kitchen, real estate and home projects, and adventuring with my husband and our Dood, Garth. The best part of my role here is getting to bring creativity and organization to our efforts to connect with YOU!