Unplugging in a Device-Free Zone
Unplug? Go without cell phone/computer/internet/movies/television/music/games? Why would I want to do that? It’s not like it’s addictive or harmful for me. Or is it?
The ongoing unplugged movement, which celebrates face-to-face human interaction and communing with the physical world, or meatspace, as opposed to cyberspace or a virtual environment, suggests it is healthy to get away from all of those 1’s and 0’s now and then. While it is understood that many types of employment in today’s world will not allow you to get away from the tools of modernity for long, even a brief sojourn without them (“digital detox”) can be helpful for your mind and body.
Advocates claim benefits include increased mindfulness, reduced stress, lowered anxiety, a better appreciation of one’s environment and becoming more people-oriented. This return to the “real” can also result in better mental health, human relationships and posture as well as increased productivity.
Is the internet and connectivity, with its information, distraction and media (social and otherwise) addictive? It depends on many factors, perhaps chief among them the degree to which the behaviors interfere with other aspects of a person’s life. There are terms for this problem: Internet addiction disorder (IAD), Problematic internet use (PIU), Compulsive internet use (CIU), internet overuse, problematic computer use, or pathological computer use.
Even if one is not necessarily afflicted with one of the above syndromes, how difficult is it to unplug, even for relatively short periods of time, for today’s hyper-connected people? The World Unplugged describes a global study in which university students from the United States, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia went 24 hours without media, and the surprising statements they made about their experiences.
Is it time to turn off and tune out? The people creating “wearable anti-tech,” phone pouches, anti-surveillance gear, etc. certainly think so.
Because more people are also working through their vacations by staying connected via email and text, the lure of unplugged travel is growing stronger for those who really want to get away from it all.
Not sure whether you’re ready to establish a “device-free zone?” Below are links to relevant items in Clermont County Public Library’s online catalog that might be of interest, some of which are digital. Wait, is that ironic?
Beyond texting: the fine art of face-to-face communication for teenagers by Debra Fine, also available as an e-Book
iRules: what every tech-healthy family needs to know about selfies, sexting, gaming, and growing up by Janell Burley Hofmann, also available as an e-Audiobook
The art of stillness [e-Book]: adventures in going nowhere by Pico Iyer, also available as an e-Audiobook
How to entertain, distract, and unplug your kids!: tricks, tools, and spontaneous screen-free activities by Matthew Jervis
The big disconnect: protecting childhood and family relationships in the digital age by Catherine Steiner-Adair, also available as an e-Book and an e-Audiobook