If there was a non-technological way to tell you this, I would jump, leap at the opportunity.
“The Disturbing YouTube videos that are tricking children”, a recent BBC Trending article got me thinking. Since I am not a parent, I’m aware that I can’t speak with the authority of telling parents how to raise their children. So, I won’t.
But the article got me thinking about something else; our dependence on the Internet (and for many people, SOLELY the Internet) for entertainment. The idea that something has to be ‘on’, ‘plugged in’, for us to be ‘on’ and ‘plugged in’ to what’s happening, what’s hip, around us.
Internet addiction is a very real thing, folks. With very real consequences if you don’t take the time to shut everything off from time to time. It has been said that internet addiction is a leading cause of depression in teenagers, as well as sleepless nights and worrying.
I’m here to advise you that you don’t have to be ‘on’ all the time.
Disrupting the digital addiction
If you’ve got Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour (or more, if you can) of offline activity each day. What I sometimes do is put my phone on silent and hide it away in a desk drawer, and turn off (not put to sleep, turn right off) my laptop. My iPad, I use the least, so most times the battery is dead anyway (hey, honesty).
Some ways to have unwind and have fun, sans the brightly-lit screens
Read a book or magazine: the old-school way, where you turn pages? Just last year, the LA Times reported that 92% of students preferred reading from paper books rather than e-books. The perks? According to the students they were much less distracted, and their eyes hurt less! I can definitely vouch for that; after a few hours too many on my laptop or iPad. my eyes are usually sending me an SOS.
Pick up a sport or a hobby at school: Growing up, extra-curricular activities were a mainstay for me when I wasn’t in a classroom. I swam for 5 years, while taking dance classes and a short stint with karate (hated it) and sang in two choirs at my school. In high school, I played tennis, joined the theatre club and another choir. Not only were these fun for physical exercise, but the friendships & connections I made? Priceless!
Grow a plant or two (succulents tend to be easiest): There are so many options of miniature plants you can grow in your yard or even within your bedroom. Provided you’re not the type to accidentally have a goldfish die while under your care (Confession: I killed a goldfish or two as a child; silly me, forgetting to feed them!), many people find nurturing an aesthetically appealing, fragrant plant to be therapeutic and the perfect accessory for their room or desk.
Write in a journal: A University of Washington professor of educational psychology found that children were more likely to retain information they wrote with the ‘old school’ pen/pencil and paper than those who typed. Those who wrote on paper wrote faster and remembered more. (How’s that for acing your next exam??)
Go green! To a green space, that is. Seek out any spaces near your neighbourhood or town where you can seize a sunny day and relax with friends. (Picnics, anyone?)
Ready to give it a try? A little digital detox? It’ll surprise you how much better you’ll feel, how little FOMO will affect you, and best of all, your self-confidence will not be at the mercy of social media feeds.
Which of the ways above do you think you’re most likely to try?