Unplug it, switch it off or simply leave it in a drawer or spare room – powering down your digital devices can be the perfect chance to reconnect with friends and family.
The widespread and apparently irresistible rise of electronic gadgetry over the past few years has fundamentally changed the way we live of lives, but for all its advantages the overuse of technology can have a detrimental impact on family life.
Unplugging those pesky electronic gadgets, from computers, to laptops and tablets, smartphones and video games – which threaten to make digital addicts of us all – could lead to ways for enriching your life in the real world. What are some of the best ways of helping us to unplug?
Take the pledge
- at Tech Timeout – this is an initiative created by international financial services and membership organisation Foresters, who have recognised the potential benefits of disengaging from the long arms of the virtual world in order to give something back to the people who most need our care, attention, love and concern – our families;
- the campaign has even developed an online pledge which you and your family members might want to sign – a promise simply to switch off every digital device, whether that is the TV, the computer, video game or smartphone, even for just an hour every day for a week.
- it might seem like an inconsequential step, but actually making the promise to disengage for at least some part of everyday can help:
- a pledge demonstrates your commitment – and that of your family if you persuade them to sign up too;
- safety in numbers – if other people are unplugging from the virtual world for some hours a day and plugging back into the real world, they can’t all be wrong.
Set yourself free
You might surprise yourself by what you can do with the freedom you win from the daily drudge of your accumulated digital devices:
- Tech Timeout suggests 50 things you and your family might do together as a result of your new-found technology-free time;
- the whole point of the exercise, though, is that your release from the confinement of the digital world gives back to you the time you would otherwise be missing – it is your time;
- because it is time you have created for you and your family, one of the first things you might want to do – on your first “evening off” – is simply to celebrate the fact by planning the huge number of things you might do;
- some may be obvious – like sitting down to a meal together, or even cooking it together; whilst others might be less immediately apparent – like lending a helping hand to others who may need it through your volunteering in charitable activity;
- the time is for you and your family to really get to know each other again – through conversation, shared activities and genuine insights into what makes each member of your family unit “tick”.
In other words, there is no practical limit to the ways you might benefit from simply stepping back and unplugging from the everyday world of televisions, computers, laptops, video games and smartphones. Whilst the temptation may be to become a digital omnivore and devour digital technology whenever, wherever and however possible, disconnecting for just a short while each day can help focus your attention back to the real world. Who knows, after just a week of your commitment switch off for an hour a day, you might discover that the benefits are so rewarding it is worth continuing the practice indefinitely.
Steve Dilworth is MD of the Member Network UK at Foresters, the international financial services (FS) and membership organisation. He has extensive experience within the charity and FS sector, with a First Class Honours Degree in Economics and a Degree in FS. He is Chair of Soho Ltd, a subsidiary of Soho Housing Association, and Chairs Bromley Neighbourhood Police Panel. In 2012 he was elected as a Community Champion for the London Borough of Bromley.