September 12, 2018

Why a Digital Detox is So Important

24 hours sans phone, computer, and TV.

Digital Detox

Doing a “digital detox” seems to be a hot topic right now. And for good reason! Recent research estimates that young adults use their phones five hours a day. That’s nearly one-third of all waking hours!

What’s even more interesting is that more than half of that time consisted of small bursts of time – less than thirty seconds or so. That indicates that much of what we are doing is habitual, automatic behavior. And that to me is quite alarming. How much of our lives are we wasting mindlessly scrolling through social media or apps?

Furthermore, we are all likely aware of some of the negative side effects of technology: increases stress and anxiety, impedes sleep, simply wastes time, and so on and so forth. Taking it a step further, social media can really wreak havoc on one’s sense of reality. As the phrase goes, “Don’t compare your reality to someone else’s highlight reel.” But that’s oh-so-easy to do when you’re scrolling through these apps like Instagram filled with picture perfect images. The comparison game can creep into your mind and being. Heck, as an adult this is an easy trap to fall into at times. I can’t imagine how hard it is for the youth of today!

With all this in mind, as part of my summer bucket list, I decided to try to go 24 hours without my phone. Well, as I mentioned in this post looking back at my bucket list and lessons learned, I acknowledged that I failed to undertake this phone-free day during the summer. But I was still determined to do so!

So, that’s just what I did this past weekend! From 7 am on Saturday until 7 am on Sunday, I went completely technology free! No phone, no computer, no TV.

Keep reading for some of my lessons and observations on my technology-free day – both light-hearted and more serious in nature.

What I Learned From My Digital Detox

1. Before you do your digital detox, tell your loved ones!

Y’all, I forgot to do this! I know it sounds like common sense, but I forgot. And in this day and age, we are so connected that when your family and close friends don’t hear from you for 24 hours, they may start to worry!

I woke up Saturday morning, turned my phone to airplane mode, and didn’t take it off until the next morning. I have to admit that I had some anxiety during the day wondering if I left some people worried. Are they trying to get in touch with me? Are they wondering why they haven’t heard from me? Are they worried?

2. Doing a digital detox will illuminate just how much we use our phones!

Heading to the park? Just enter that address into Google Maps.

Want to meet up with a friend? Just text her.

Reading a book and want to look up a word you come across? Just google it.

Need to find out what time Saturday night church service is? Just look it up.

See where I’m going with this? We have become so utterly dependent on our phones. There are no more physical maps or home phones or encyclopedias or such. Just our technology! The tether between us and technology is so great that we practically can’t carry out some simple tasks without it.

3. If you’re doing a detox, be sure to pre-arrange any social plans!

As I mentioned, I did my digital detox on the weekend. As luck would have it, Elle and I had a low-key Saturday at home planned. We had no real appointments or anything specific on our schedule. I just planned to spend a lot of one-on-one time with her.

As the day went on, I went to text my friend Jayme to see if she wanted to have a late brunch. I instinctively typed the text and pressed send. Then, I got that dreaded red exclamation mark that meant my message didn’t go through. I had indeed momentarily forgotten that I was offline.

But then it dawned on me… Elle and I were going to have a completely solo day with completely no plans – because I hadn’t pre-planned anything with anyone! Ha.

4. If you undergo a digital detox, you will be tempted!

Whether it’s some of those seemingly valid uses for your phone or computer that I mentioned in number two, or whether it’s the urge to get a hit (so to speak) of social media, the temptation will be real! You’ll want to just check really quick to make sure nothing major is happening in the world. You might be missing out, after all!

But resist the urge. Much like any other addiction, the addiction cannot control you if you don’t indulge in the “drug”. Just say no! Power through it.

5. When you do a digital detox, you will quickly wonder, “What am I going to do all day?”

And that’s a valid question! Your hands will be idle from the technology grip. Your eyes won’t be glued to a screen. Your house may be quieter than usual.

So, what are you going to do with that time? Well, here’s how we spent our day… We had breakfast at home. We went to the park. We got smoothies. We played at home. We went out for lunch together. We took a nap. We read books. I read a book from start to finish. I took a long bath. I spent some time stretching. I organized some things around the house.

6. Disconnecting digitally will automatically connect you more to the physical world around you.

The time I spent with Elle this weekend was so precious. That’s not because we did anything out of the ordinary, but rather precisely because I fully experienced the ordinary. In other words, I was totally present in what we were doing – our conversations, our play, our meals, our bedtime routine.

And I will note that, in general, I try to avoid being on my phone when I’m with her. But I realize now how much I still mindlessly will scroll through Instagram or try to reply to a few emails really quickly. Even so, completely eliminating the digital component made me so much more tuned in to her and our time together.

7. Disconnecting completely will illustrate to you your subconscious patterns.

I found that I would reach for my phone without realizing it. I would try to text a friend without even thinking about it. I would open Twitter to see what was going on in the world before remembering I wasn’t online.

As they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Well, in this case, I might say that the second step is becoming aware of your patterns. When do you reach for your phone? Is it for a specific purpose or is it just mindless? Certainly there are valid reasons to use a smart phone. But let’s try to eliminate some of that habitual action.


Bottom line

Bottom line: Going completely offline for a defined period of time is a great way to evaluate your habits. Sure, there are apps and tools to monitor how much time you spend on your phone and how you spend that time. But sometimes a cold turkey approach is more powerful.

And you know what? My day wasn’t any less fulfilling for not knowing what strangers on the internet were doing. My world didn’t fall apart because I didn’t know the latest news stories. And actually, not only did my world not end, my world felt a little richer that day as I was blissfully ignorant of such things.

Have you ever done something like this? If not, give it a try! It is a powerful teaching tool. It’s something I’m considering replicating on an ongoing basis – perhaps monthly or otherwise. There’s a lot of freedom to be found in disconnecting.

One final note: I did still allow myself to carry my phone around in airplane mode all day. How else was I going to get all these adorable photos of Elle? 🙂


  1. Liz says:

    Love it! Priceless moments with Elle will be the memories you’ll hold close to your heart.

    Aunt Lizard

    1. Indeed! Hugs to you too.

  2. Seylon says:

    Carrie I take your advice on Digital Detox for 24hrs😃

    1. Can you believe I did it? Hee.

      Let’s catch up soon! You can let me know how your digital detox goes. 😉

    1. Thanks so much for sharing my digital detox thoughts! Have a great weekend, friend.

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