How to take a Holiday Digital Detox

Turkey over Tech

Traditionally, the holidays are a time to gather, give thanks, reflect on the past and plan for the future. But what if it was also a time to unplug from technology?

Studies find that the average internet users spends three hours online everyday, with more than half of that time on our mobile devices. This means that screen time consumes more than 2,300 hours, or 96 days, a year. That is a whopping 26% of our time!

So what can we do to temper this trend? We recommend trying a holiday digital detox.

At VISIONS Service Adventures, we are known for our tech-free programs for middle and high school students. We witness firsthand the rewards of unplugging and being fully present for the amazing experiences that unfold on our programs.

Katherine Dayton, VISIONS Director, recently shared her insights on the benefits of taking a social media hiatus with Josh Ochs of SmartSocial, a website focused on helping students find balance between their lives online and offline. These insights can be applied by the whole family during the upcoming holidays and beyond.

Still sound daunting? Like any new resolution, it takes time and commitment. So let’s break down a holiday digital detox into bite-size steps.

1. Start Small. How about starting with a 24-hour tech-free “Turkey over Tech” Thanksgiving? If that seems overwhelming, remember that you will be sleeping 8 hours of that time!

2. Understand Your Purpose. Be clear on why you want to unplug from tech for the holidays. Write  your reasons on paper and post them in a place where you can be reminded of your “Why.” Trust us! There will be times you will need to be reminded.

3. Incorporate Accountability. Don’t try this alone. It is a lot easier to disconnect if you are gathering with others who have a similar goal. Let your family and friends know you are taking this hiatus and invite them to join you on the journey. Remember your break includes social media, texting, email and any online activities. With your new-found time, you can write a letter.

4. Do Something Meaningful. You will suddenly have several hours of “free” time. This is an opportunity to do something meaningful with your accountability team. Plan a hike, explore a park, volunteer at a local nonprofit, visit a senior center, or play old fashioned board games. Again, remember to put your mobile devices away – out of sight and out of mind. You can capture the moment with a camera if you have access to one.

5. Reward Yourself. The best way to reinforce a new habit is to incorporate a reward for your success. Give yourself some extra credit for choosing a non-tech prize. Think pumpkin pie for breakfast or a cozy new pair of socks for the season. However, if you are a football fan, it might mean watching the game you recorded on Thanksgiving day.

Before diving back into the digital world, we encourage you to reflect on your experience with your accountability partners. At VISIONS, we use Circle meetings as an opportunity to gather as a group to reflect on the day, listen to others, receive feedback and develop strong communication skills.

And you never know, you might be ready to incorporate intermittent digital detox all year round.

“The lack of phones seemed challenging at first, but it made my trip much more enjoyable and allowed me to get to know everyone better.”
—Robby Phillips, Alumni

“I think Essi has learned how to take time to notice these things more now.  I also am thinking about how to implement a no phone time now and then. She said she didn’t miss her phone and not having it helped her bond and really develop friendships with the other participants!”
—Deb Wunderman, Parent


Tech-Free Programs

Teen summer programs that unplug from the digital to connet with the real.

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