Protect Your Kids
Protect Your Kids 3 minute read

Digital Detox

Last Updated: February 20, 2014

Taking a Break From Technology to Spend Time with Family

Step away from the eggnog…and the iPad—which may be difficult if you are like many families this Christmas. Adults and kids alike are having visions of a very “iChristmas,” but is technology intruding on family traditions?

The Apple iPad is the leading choice on the wishlists of kids ages 6-12, followed by the iPod Touch and the iPhone, according to a recent Nielsen survey. Other popular choices include gaming devices (Nintendo, Xbox, Playstation) and e-readers (Kindle, NOOK). It is stacking up to be a very wired Christmas for all ages.

But in this season intended for togetherness, we often invest in products that steal away important family time and human interactions.

Taking a Digital Time-Out

It’s a safe bet that those gadget gifts will lose some of  their excitement over time. Eventually, children will get bored and want the newer, faster model. Not to mention there is a good chance that somewhere along the way the item will get lost, damaged, or accidentally dropped in the toilet.

Some stats from the UK show just that. In general, approximately 50% of Christmas presents are discarded within a year. Approximately 15% of people who receive a tech or electronic gadget will get frustrated getting it to work and will try to return it, or ultimately it will get thrown out.

Fast forward 20 years. Most children will probably not remember what they got for Christmas 2011.  But they will remember the times decorating cookies together, singing carols, and making snow angels in the fresh white powder. Some of the fondest memories are of the traditions and time spent, not with “things.”

Dr. Susan Coady of The Ohio State University has devoted much time to researching family traditions. In an interview with Geneology.com she shares why traditions are important. According to Dr. Coady, traditions are built-in family time. Traditions provide stability, a sense of family history, and feelings of roots.

Living in the Digital Age, it has become increasingly difficult to pull away from the grasp of the laptops, phones and gadgets. Many moms and dads will probably still be checking work e-mail while at home for the holiday. It seems that we never can quite get away. And 46% of Americans indicated that they check their work e-mail while on vacation, as shown in research done by Xobni and Harris Interactive.

Many individuals have spent too much time this year in front of a screen or on a smart phone. As a result, 47% of families with Internet said they were often ignored because another member of the household spends too much time online, according to the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

In addition, Americans are increasingly going online for simple diversion and to just pass time. Statistics from Pew Research show us that on any given day, 53% of  young adults ages 18-29 get online for no particular reason.

The Digital Detox movement was born in effort to help people surrender the gadgets that hold them captive from true and meaningful interactions with real people.

A simple web search will yield results in wonderful Detox vacations, where you will be wisked away, sans your phone and other applicable gadgets. But one does not need need to spend the big bucks on a fancy vacation to help learn to live a little less “wired.” The Christmas season is an excellent opportunity to start your own Digital Detox.

Here are just a few suggestions to help individuals and families take a “breather” from all things wired:

  • Bundle up and take a walk with the kids.
  • Play board games.
  • Read a book.
  • Give back–serve someone less fortunate.
  • Bake cookies and take them to the neighbors.
  • Try something new.

A Great Last-Minute Gift for your Detoxer

Remember the classic children’s book Goodnight Moon? You will love Goodnight iPad, a parody by David Milgrim. Milgrim’s book is a reminder to turn off our tech toys and find the simple quiet world featured in Goodnight Moon.

“I fear that some of the simple and quieter things may get lost, in the same way the night sky gets lost to the lights,” Milgrim says. “Those simple activities like being with friends, reading aloud, and especially time spent outside in nature are critical to building a full life and establishing a sense of balance. The quiet beauty portrayed so poetically in Goodnight Moon is a perfect example. The modern world is just way too intense, even for the most sophisticated amongst us.”

Here is an excerpt from Goodnight iPad:

Goodnight remotes
And Netflix streams,
Androids, apps,
And glowing screens.
Goodnight plugs
And power lights…
Goodnight gadgets everywhere.

Well put. Merry Christmas… now go enjoy your family!

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