6 Healthy Ways to Get Over Digital Fatigue (for Kids too!)
At the start of COVID screen time was at an all-time high, for everyone. And with most people working from home *still* and many schools heading back to virtual learning it doesn't look like it's going to let up anytime soon. But going from WFH to binging on news, social media, or Netflix it isn't exactly healthy for our eyes, our mood, or our sleep. We chatted up Bethany Baker, executive director of A-GAP, which hosts tech-free weekends with creative camp-like experiences for adults, for ways we can give up more phone time for more "me" time. Also: check out ways to give kids IRL time as they head back for more remote learning.
1. Keep a charging station: "I encourage people to put their phones down whenever they get home and have a charging station for their phones," says Baker. This way, rather than keep your phone in your hand or pocket at home, you keep it at a distance avoiding the mindless check in throughout the day. Turn off notifications too: "Whenever we have notifications on an app, we're three times more likely to check it," says Baker.
2. Get an alarm clock. "The number one thing is keeping your phone out of your bedroom and to get an alarm clock," says Baker. She notes that the impact of going to sleep looking at your phone and then waking up and looking at your phone "impairs our ability to have creative and original thoughts. Instead, we're just constantly consuming and regurgitating what we consumed instead of having an original idea," she says.
3. Go for a phone-free walk. "A lot of people feel like we need something to do something, but a lot of times it's just eliminating the distractions so that we can be fully present. And it doesn't take a retreat to do that, it just takes some self-discipline," says Baker. Good point and noted!
4. Rearrange your apps. "That way you don't mindlessly go to them. And even if you can't go to an A-GAP experience or a tech-free retreat, you can still take a break from your social media apps." she says. So delete them from your phone from time to time and get back the average two and a half hours a day people spend on social media to spend on creative endeavors or time with family, friends or your S-O.
5. Take a screen-free Sabbath (or any day). "We encourage people to do what we call a screen-free Sabbath, but it's just basically having a day where you're off your phone completely, or an hour a day where you're off your phone, or a week, a weekend where you're not on it," says Baker.
6. Spend one-on-one time with the kiddos. Whether they join you on that nature walk or you're just hanging in your backyard, find moments in the day, even during "school," to be completely tech free. You'll set an example for them when they start to own their own devices. Looking for some guidelines for starters?
A report from Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare suggests having at least one media-free meal a day (including background TV), turning off screens two hours before bedtime (to avoid that melatonin-messing blue light), and focusing on quality content is a start. Also create digital breaks throughout the day so kids can balance out screen time with IRL activities like getting outside and playing imaginative and creative games that's so good for their development.
Have you taken a digital detox? Share with us @BritandCo!
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Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.