At this point in time, you are probably doing one of a few things: checking the news constantly for updates on COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders; trying to scour online stores for toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes; and, if you’re a parent of school-aged children, helping them complete assigned lessons while trying not to toss the laptop or tablet out the window. How can you get a “reboot”?
The amount of time we’ve spent in front of a screen in the past few weeks has probably risen dramatically. Is it all bad? Probably not. Most are virtually visiting family and friends, guiding their children through at-home lessons, looking up recipes for all of the cooking they’re now doing (or looking up delivery options), and discovering a laundry list of entertainment alternatives like virtual tours of museums, different social media platforms (Tik-what?) and fun online games (Solitaire has probably been deleted…). But too much can have some negative side effects such as:
- Increasingly distracted from engaging with activities that do not have anything to do with tech
- Decreased physical activity which means increased sluggishness, tiredness, and brain fog
- “Withdrawal” symptoms, such as anger and depression, when tech access is limited
- Less meaningful conversation with others besides what is tech-related
Especially now, taking a “timeout” from technology can give our minds a “reboot” and encourage us to re-evaluate our use. Are we using tech for what is needed such as work and school? Are we occasionally using tech for household needs such as paying bills or shopping for goods? Are most of our hobbies centered around tech use, such as reading and listening to books online, playing games (here comes that shout-out to Solitaire) and watching DIY videos without actually “doing it yourself”? Taking a timeout can also help us:
- Connect with our family, strengthening bonds that may have loosened due to tech overuse
- Think creatively about resolving problems and/or undertaking tasks that were previously YouTube-able
- Step up our physical activity which can help build overall strength, keep our heart and lungs healthy, improve sleep, and increase energy
- Clear our minds of the overwhelming clutter, allowing time to rest and reset
So how can we all take a tech timeout? Choose a block of time to unplug. It can be early in the morning as you enjoy your morning coffee and prepare mentally for the day. It can be before bedtime to help you decompress and slip into a deeper sleep. It can be in the middle of the day to put a “pause” on all of the activity going on around you and IN YOUR HEAD. Whatever the case may be, use this block of time to your, and your family’s advantage.
Not sure what to do during a tech timeout?
Of course, these are just 20 ideas. There are tons more and be creative! Turn the timeout into a “Tag me in” time for you and your family. When tech time is back on, share with your family and friends via video chat or a social media page. Then, get back to what needs to be done using tech. In all things there’s balance, including with tech. Technology is an awesome resource and can really help us stay connected but having periodic breaks is important for us mentally, emotionally, and physically. So, take a timeout!
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