Four Things That Change When You Step Back From The Web
We’ve been taking a day off from gadgets and the internet for well over three years now – that means no smartphones, not internet, no computers and (mostly) no streaming or gaming for the whole family.
There are six of us – seven if you count the dog. Myself, my wife Caroline and four children – Ben (18), Gabriel (15), Jessica (13) and Noah (7), and we were asked about our “Tech Free Sundays” so many times that I wrote a book about our experiences and the benefits we’ve seen – along with some practical pointers for those who want to do the same.
Here are four of the biggest benefits that we have found (in brief)…..
#1 – Happier
The children are a lot happier, as are we. There is less conflict in our house, and much lower incidence of “Teenage Tantrums” – we’ve found that when they were permanently plugged in, they really struggled to compromise their own desires and do things together. On our days off, they cannot simply do their own thing on their own screen, they have to find more collaborative ways of having fun.
There’s also less chance of ‘school life’ sticking with them 24 hours a day. We also unplug in the evenings, so any school trouble cannot follow them to dinner, through the evening and on to bed. In the mornings, when the phones go back on we’ll often find other 13 year olds Snapchatting each other far beyond midnight.
#2 – Healthier
We’re all a lot healthier, not only do we find things to do together, but having the gadgets removed has driven everyone outside to play/ride/walk the dog/throw a frisbee etc. Several of us have step counters, and we’ve seen many miles more exercise since we started this.
Not only that, but (for some of us) our posture has improved considerably, not only the ‘neck down’ walking silhouette, but the ‘slumped back’ desk chair silhouette too.
#3 – Safer
We are safer both online and in the real world. Addiction to internet access means that our brain drives a need for more ‘likes’ and more extremes. Adolescents are especially susceptible to this, and ours find it easier to resist the pull of the darker, more extreme and less savoury parts of the internet.
Looking up from the gadgets makes you safer when walking, but for the three of us that drive, being able to resist the pull of the phone is a critical safety skill. Over half a million accidents were caused in the USA last year due to people using their phones behind the wheel.
#4 – Smarter
Finally, the children are smarter – we’ve seen it in their grades at school, and it’s connected to the increase in quality sleep and the ability of their brains to retain and connect information better. There is a large body of scientific evidence that shows physical changes in the brain related to prolonged internet access.
I wish I could say it’s easy to do this, but it’s not a pain free process – especially during the first six weeks. My book “Digitox” will absolutely help you to do this with your family, and convince the more reluctant members that there are really good social and scientific reasons to do so. Good luck!