Recently I did the unthinkable – I put myself, my husband and my two sons on a technology detox! As I packed every device away, I literally had a lump in my throat and felt uneasy about what was to come. It had been building to this point for about two months – after our move to another country. If we felt lonely or had feelings come up that were uncomfortable to feel – like missing family and friends – we resorted to filling ourselves up with Internet, social media, TV, movies and gaming devices. I had found myself going to my iPhone several times in just an hour. The need to connect with people was strong.
I realised that when I was tired, stressed or lonely, I would go and turn the telly on….. ahh, relief…. I could lose myself in a program or movie. Even though I personally didn’t watch much TV, I felt the most desperate when I made the choice to take away the remotes.
Before and After Our Technology Detox
After the initial shock for my sons aged 10 and 11 (which lasted all of 5 minutes), they understood that it was something for us all to experience – what life was like without the distractions of technology. Before the detox, even with time limits they would check out on gaming devices, lack focus, be disorganised and have a fogginess. Once they accepted the fact of the detox, they immediately looked around their rooms and found things they used to play with. They played marbles outside, kicked a soccer ball, played with lego, went to the park and did experiments.
The first morning after beginning our technology detox, I woke up with a smile on my face – I felt an instant freeing feeling. Everyone felt amazing and so did the house – sounds too good to be true? Well it truly was just like that: everyone still had issues with the decision, especially the boys, but it was like this weight had been lifted off us all. Usually I would wake up and reach for my phone beside me to check something, even if it was just the weather! One son would get up and turn on a TV program and the other would join him or play on his iPod. I realised we were all literally hooked into technology in different ways.
How do you know what you are like with something if you don’t have the time without it to feel and see the difference?
We were able to see each other for who we truly are without all the distractions of TV, phones, gaming devices, etc, and hiding behind them.
The boys completed their homework with no pushing, were super organised in their rooms and ready for their day at school. What was very clear to see and feel also was that the fogginess that is usually there was completely gone – our eyes sparkled! We were all left to feel what our bodies wanted to do.
We cooked together and ate as a family, talked about our days and shared our feelings. We went to sleep earlier than usual as we were free to feel how tired we were instead of getting drawn into a TV program at night and going past that time when you really feel to put yourself to bed. During the day I noticed that without the distractions it was easier for me to have a rest and lie down whenever I felt tired.
Nothing was too much trouble or too hard to do. We really noticed how much time we had previously wasted focussing on things that didn’t have a heartbeat; our lack of connection to family and society became more apparent. Now if I feel to connect with someone I call them and say ‘hi’.
Since finishing our technology detox, old habits of getting lost in some form of technology still creep in, but with this detox experience allowing us to feel the effect on our bodies of the overuse of technology, we can definitely see and feel the difference and arrest it a lot sooner.
Technology OVERLOAD – Bringing Back Connection
Technology overload and saturation is so prevalent in society, especially with children and teenagers. Our sons say that video console games are all the boys talk about at school and if you don’t have the latest inappropriate violent game, you’re left out of the loop. Girls are excluded if they’re not on social media taking photos of themselves. This is in grades 4 and 6!!
What are we saying to others when we are always looking at our phones or computer screens? It can’t be that we are so important that we don’t have time to talk to others. As a result of our technology detox, our family was able to share how it feels when each of us ignores ourselves and each other when we are checked out with technology. I looked around and observed technology overload almost everywhere – friends, family, work colleagues and people out at shopping centres – nobody truly being with each other as they are looking at their phones instead.
Since this experience I have no desire or need to connect to others from behind a screen – or to check my emails continually. All I can say is:
The feeling of freedom to feel and think of what is needed next is so clear since my technology detox.
Technology is all around us and we use it every day, but perhaps we need to consider whether we are using it to support our lives or whether we are trying to get technology to give to us what we will not give to ourselves…
I feel it’s worth taking the time to consider and appreciate that we can still stay connected with ourselves and with each other whilst living in a world of technology.
By Aimee Edmonds, Vancouver