Finding it difficult to live without your smartphone? Going online the first opportunity you get? Carrying your tablet or iPad with you wherever you go? Maybe it is time to take a break from all this technology.
The fact is that you would not be alone in your digital addiction. According to a report in the Daily Telegraph :
- we check our mobile phones on average of 200 times a day;
- a quarter of us are online for more hours than we sleep; and
- 73% of us would find it exceedingly difficult to manage a full day without our mobile or computer.
If you recognise yourself as a digital addict, you might want to take a step back and consider whether it is worth kicking the habit – or at least easing up on your love affair with all things technological.
Treating yourself to some digital downtime is something currently being encouraged by the Tech Timeout campaign, which has come up with a very long list of positive things you might be doing, having turned off all your gadgets and devices for at least part of each day. The list includes such simple family related activities as:
- making breakfast together;
- visiting your local park;
- playing a game of football;
- going to the bowling alley;
- visiting a relative;
- making a family visit to the theatre or a concert; and
- more than 40 additional suggestions.
The potential benefits are as diverse as the suggested activities. They stem from a rediscovery of what it is to be interested in and enthusiastic about the real – as opposed to the virtual – world. You may have witnessed some of the excitement and wonder that your children enjoyed as they started to grow and explore the fascinating world around them. You might want to restore some of that joy and wonder on their behalf. Perhaps you want to take advantage of it yourself – an opportunity to rediscover the technology-free joys of childhood.
Moreover, building or re-building relationships in the real world may be your path to rediscovering what it is to be human, what it is to feel emotion and to recognise the emotions of other people – whether members of your own family, colleagues, social group or even complete strangers.
“You have to be physically present with your friends to get the benefits of social interaction. Texting, Facebooking or chatting on the phone has a remoteness that means you lose a lot of positive impact,” according to the director of Policy for the Children’s Society, Lily Caprani, speaking to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
What makes the Tech Timeout challenge realistically achievable is that it recognises the inevitable, essential part which technology plays in practically everyone’s life today.
Steve Dilworth from Foresters, – the international financial services and membership organisation launching the Tech Timeout initiative, comments:
“Digital communication is on the rise. As we “chat” online, “speak” to ‘Siri’ and make “friends” with a virtual profile, online interaction is swiftly becoming the new norm – but with it the danger of becoming a ‘digital addict’ is increasing.
“Time spent on technology is ever more essential in today’s society and is often a rewarding and productive experience, but it is important that digital devices are enjoyed in moderation and time is taken to enjoy life outside of technology too.”
The challenge is not seeking to encourage people to be “digital phobic” or proposing any drastically Luddite ban on all things digital. It is simply proposing that for at least a little of our time each day – maybe a whole evening, maybe just for an hour – the devices on which so many of us rely are simply switched off.
Steve Dilworth is MD of the Member Network UK at Foresters, the international financial services (FS) and membership organisation. He has extensive experience within the charity and FS sector, with a First Class Honours Degree in Economics and a Degree in FS. He is Chair of Soho Ltd, a subsidiary of Soho Housing Association, and Chairs Bromley Neighbourhood Police Panel. In 2012 he was elected as a Community Champion for the London Borough of Bromley.