How to Use Technology to Unplug

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August 11, 2015

We’ve all noticed how out of hand our use of technology has become. Go to any restaurant and you will see tables full of people ignoring each other’s physical presence in favor of looking down at the screens on their smartphones or tablets. The scariest part is that, with increasing frequency, people are finding it harder and harder to be away from their devices.  If that’s true, why not just use those same devices to break the habit?

Yes, it sounds crazy but many drug rehabilitation programs use narcotics to treat addiction to narcotics so it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility. With internet and phone addiction centers popping up across the country, it’s time we started addressing this growing problem in our society.  Here are some of the emerging methods for counteracting the effects of handheld technology.

Say Goodnight

Not too long ago, our interactions with each other would naturally taper off at the end of our work/school day, date or evening at home. We’d go to our rooms, close our doors and wind down after a busy day. Today, we struggle to maintain those healthy boundaries. We feel the need to respond to texts or like posts on social media immediately. We lose sleep playing games on our phones. We ignore important in-person interactions to glance at yet another cat video. We can solve this all with one word – “goodnight.” Start sending this message to friends and family to signal the end of your day and you will feel responsible, in control and rested.

Digital Detox

Need to go hardcore?  The Digital Detox app will deactivate most features on a mobile device, leaving core functions, such as 911, as the only thing running. Users can select how long the detox lasts and, shockingly, it’s almost impossible to disable. In fact, unless you have some mad hacking skills, you are locked in to detox mode until the predetermined time has passed. If you are desperate, you could do a factory reset which, of course, deletes everything on the device.

Digital Detach

A slightly less intense approach would be the Digital Detach app that has the ability to, temporarily, turn a smartphone into a regular device that can only make calls and send texts. There are timed detox sessions to help users find more balance in their lives. The app is $1.99 but when you think about how much time this will save you, it’s probably worth it.

Do Not Disturb

Yes, every phone has a “do not disturb” setting that can be turned on and off at any time. While you may cave to urges and turn your notifications back on, consider trying this as a first step to see if you can get into the habit of, at least, sleeping through the night without hearing the familiar ping from apps on your phone. Turn this setting on when you are spending time with your family, in a meeting or out on a date. You will eventually realize how much you’ve been missing out.

Moment App

Making a conscious effort for yourself is within your control but it can be more difficult to monitor the activities of your children. For a fee ($5.99 for three months of $19.99 for the year), the Moment app allows parents to see how much time their kids are spending on their devices and allows them to set restrictions without disabling functions. Instead, the app focuses on setting daily goals and sends reminders as usage reaches the limit.

It is entirely possible to find a middle ground when it comes to mobile devices. They can do so much good in terms of simplifying our lives but we must be mindful that they do not take over.

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