I remember when our first computer made its grand entrance into my life. It was 1997. I was 8 years old and was thrilled to have this (very large) piece of technology at my fingertips–eager to play games, explore the internet, and print out random clipart to hang around my bedroom.
My sister and I were mesmerized at the possibilities of this giant box. It was unlike anything we had ever experienced, opening up a world of possibilities in both academics and leisure.
Technology has since exploded, creating opportunities and providing ways to spend our time that no decade prior to the millennium knew.
Technology has allowed us to stay more connected with those near and far through social media, chat apps, and more.
It’s become much more portable. In 2000, the average desktop computer and monitor weighed 33 pounds combined. No one dreamed of toting it around for the day. Today we can carry a smartphone comfortably in our pocket.
Cloud-based storage allows us to save everything we could possibly want. A far stretch from those floppy disks I remember backing my research papers onto.
We’re able to track just about everything in our lives, from the calories we eat to the steps we take to our REM sleep cycles.
Artificial intelligence (Hey Siri) has even opened the door to having our own virtual assistants anywhere we could possibly need them.
Technology has undoubtedly increased measures of productivity, health care advances, space exploration, and more. For that, we should be thankful.
But this article isn’t a love letter about how technology has improved our lives. It’s a reminder that sometimes we need to step away from it. Unplugging from technology with regular gadget fasts—and embracing habits of simplicity—can be a life-enhancing practice.
Why a Simple Tech Detox Might Be Necessary
One of technology’s greatest gifts is efficiency.
But when efficiency and productivity are at the forefront of our lives, we often forget to leave room for life’s simple pleasures, for slowing down, or even for taking time to reflect on what’s most important in a given moment.
Sometimes taking a fast, or an intentional break, from something good is a smart way to maintain balance and preserve the enjoyment of it—and life.
When we place a conscious limit on an area in our life, we choose to give our minds and bodies a rest from that particular activity. Consider what it would look like if you took a tech fast from your smartphone, specific apps, or everything technological for half a day, a week, or even a month. What benefits might you gain from it?
One way I’ve used this practice is by placing my phone somewhere else when I want focused time with those close to me.
I regularly leave my phone inside when I play in the backyard with my kids. This simple habit allows me to avoid the temptation of scrolling through social media or checking my email.
With no phone, I’m more engaged and more enjoy our time together. I’m more focused on our conversations and less likely to become inattentive to the playfulness that’s going on around me.
Taking a tech detox for any amount of time not only allows you to become more present with those around you, it also reminds you of wonderful ways to pass the time, such as reading a book instead of a kindle or playing a board game on the floor with your kids instead of watching TV.
My family and I still enjoy technology every day, but we find it important to take breaks when needed and be mindful about filling our time with ways that bring us contentment and joy. Keep in mind as you read that this isn’t a prescriptive technique or a one-size-fits-all approach. What simplicity means to me might be different for you.
But I would encourage you to try a fast from the technologies that limit you from living a meaningful life, and add them back in when you feel refreshed and focused—if at all.
12 Simple Ways to Detox From Technology
Read a book, rather than something on your kindle or phone.
Avoid the temptation of scrolling social media before bed by keeping your phone out of the bedroom.
Gather a big stack of books and read to your children instead of turning on the TV.
Turn off your air conditioning and open the windows and doors for some clean, fresh air.
Sit and watch the sunrise instead of turning on the news when you wake up.
Place your phone in a different room when you want to have focused time with those you love.
Play a game or have a good conversation with your spouse in the evening instead of flipping on Netflix.
Begin a gratitude journal by starting your day writing three to five things you’re grateful for, rather than opening up social media as soon as you wake up.
Turn off notifications on social media. I’ve done this for years, and I’ve never regretted missing a message or comment the second it comes in.
Go outside for a walk, but leave your phone at home. Listen to the sounds around you as you walk, focus on your posture, and take big, deep breaths.
Do a decluttering spree by deleting any apps on your devices that you no longer use. Seeing fewer apps on my screen is always less distracting and allows me to more easily see the ones I still use.
Take a fast from social media. I’ve done this for several week-long stretches (even deleting the app on my phone), and it’s always a meaningful time for me to focus on other areas of life while not feeling that I’m missing out.
Make a Tech Detox Work for You
In life, there are few hard and fast rules, but there are adjustments that can make life more enjoyable and meaningful.
I’d encourage you to take a fast from the areas of technology that have resulted in less connection and eroded your ability to be present.
A tech detox gives you a renewed appreciation for life’s free pleasures, creates a healthy balance between stimulation and boredom, and instills a realization that living more simply results in less stress and more happiness.
Mollie (and her husband, Mike) blog at This Evergreen Home where they share their experience with living simply, intentionally, and relationally in this modern world. You can follow along by subscribing to their twice-weekly newsletter.
This article was originally published on This Evergreen Home.