How to unplug and take a digital detox this summer

We spend an average of 4 to 5 hours in front of the television sets per day. Toss in the addition of the computer screen and the smartphone, that number doubles to almost 12 hours per day. Facebook. Netflix. Emails.

It all grabs our attention and keeps us plugged in all day long. And it doesn’t help when the first thing we do when the kids get cranky is to reach for another screen to plop in front of their face and distract them.

The pitfalls associated with more screen time are downright scary including, but not limited to: Increased waistlinesPoor Sleep; and Lots and lots of stress.

Let’s put an end to that. We must do better. A simple and routine digital detox from our non-stop technology can do the trick. Here are the rules:

  • Pick one day per week and stick to it like an important meeting. This usually means planning on a regularly-scheduled day off for your unplugged day (like a Saturday or Sunday). From sun up to sun down, it’s all about being tech-free.
  • Tech-free means tech-FREE: No TV. No cell phones. No technology. Obviously, you may need to have a phone around in case of emergencies, so exceptions can be made. Just try to go without the phone for as long as possible.
  • This rule applies for the whole family. Unless there is an absolute emergency, Facebook and Snapchat and text messages can all wait a few hours.

Obviously, it has been far too long for many of us to actually have any ideas on how to do this whole day of unplugged. So let us provide some inspiration with a few thought-starters.

10 Ideas to Start a Digital Detox and Go Tech-Free

1) Talk to some people
Ever find yourself texting and Facebooking with the TV on and some random show playing in the background while your wife is sitting next to you doing the same thing? Yeah, we’re all guilty of this one. Here’s an idea: put the phones down. Shut off the TV. Get off of SnapChat, Facebook and Twitter. Turn to each other and … talk. It’s this weird activity in which feelings and expressions are outwardly displayed through the use of unique sound patterns that form words. Human beings have been able to communicate utilizing these words and phrases for millennia. For some reason, we’ve decided to break from that pattern lately to text inside of actually talking. Try this collection of words that will help break the ice: “How was your day?”

2) Family game night (not video games, peeps)
Even though we’re all in on blasting pre-pubescent teens in a round of Call of Duty, this challenge is about going without technology, so your next round of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Gaming (MMORPG) warfare must wait … but your competitive spirit can still live on through old school board games. Crank out the Monopoly and the game of Life. It’s a great way to get the whole family involved, pass some time and have a bunch of fun.

3) Get some Vitamin D & Take a Walk
Grab the group, pack a bag and perhaps even some snacks and explore the neighborhood. Live in a boring area of town? No worries. Plan ahead of time and discover a new park or beach or locale where you can all enjoy some time as a family, while getting a new taste of your hood. Bonus points if you combine some of these ideas to make some food ahead of time and plan a picnic.

4) Make a Fort or Camp Out in the Backyard
No need to head to some campgrounds in the middle of nowhere to enjoy a night in nature. All you need is your backyard. Set up the usual camping fare with a tent and even a small fire, if you have the space and resources. Hang out among the stars with some hot cocoa and stories in front of the campfire. For the big city peeps, or those not really down with a night outside, no problem: Channel your inner-childhood and use pillows, sheets and furniture to create a huge fort or tent inside your own living room. You can still some hot cocoa and even s’mores to go along with your adventure.

5) Play a Sport
A simple game of catch or tossing the Frisbee around will entertain the kids for hours, burn a few extra calories for you, and hopefully even tire out the kids so they pass out early and give mom and dad some alone time. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, just grab a ball or anything you can toss around and head outside. Nothing to throw? Then play a good old fashion game of tag or hide and seek. Get creative with it and have some fun.

6) Read a Book
Start a little book club within the family and set a time each week for everyone to read and then share with the group their critiques of the current page-turner. It encourages a real dedication to reading for your kids, and helps you stay in line with one of the biggest rules of our New Dad Order.

7) Puzzle time
Find one of those almost impossible to put together 10,000 piece puzzles and take some time each week to divide and conquer that bad boy like a team. Take this to another level by actually creating your own puzzle out of a picture of your choosing with sites like Shutterfly. It can be a family portrait … or maybe a place the family recently visited for vacation … or maybe it’s a place you’d like to eventually take the family … doesn’t matter, just have fun with it.

8) Hit the Kitchen
From cookies to English Muffin Pizzas, there are a million and one different recipes you can create that will allow the kids to chip in, help out and even learn a thing or two about cooking up some culinary delights. A simple Google search or a quick check to Pinterest will get you started on simple ways and recipes that can get the entire family involved.

9) Volunteer
Talk about two for one here. You get out of the house without the need for technology and you get to give back to a worthy cause at the same time? Sounds like a recipe for win-win to me. Not to mention, chipping in for a worthy cause with the whole family instills a valuable lesson of philanthropy to the kids. By getting the entire clan involved, you’ll set a solid example as a role model for the Padawans.

10) Grill up some food
Got a grill? Got some skills? There are few things more manly than getting back to the primal roots of cooking meat over a fire. Invite some friends over, grab some beer, and find some things to grill up with the family. If you live in an apartment or just don’t have a grill, find a nearby beach or park that has a communal fire source and get to work.

Access to technology 24/7 is a tribute to how advanced our society has become. In many ways, it’s a terrific benefit that we enjoy in ways that we never even imagined during our youth – who remembers rotary dial-up phones or the size of the first computer monitors? It’s obviously pretty awesome to know we can get a hold of anyone from anywhere with the press of a few smartphone buttons.

But, the continuous, non-stop use of this technology also comes brings a laundry list of issues. Keeping up with the goings on of your cousin’s latest relationship status on Facebook, the most mundane email request and the silly meme shared via group text is simply not sustainable.

Equally unsustainable is the idea of unplugging completely. However if we don’t get away from it all and shut off the screens, we’re doomed to crack at some point. Prevent that implosion and set a positive example for the kids with a this one day per week dedication to a complete digital detox.

It’s only one day.

This post originally appeared on DaddyMindTricks.com.

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