Sunday, December 2, 2012

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How to "Digital Detox" & reconnect back with your family


This morning's TODAY show featured a segment about moms (and dads) need to take a "digital diet" and reconnect back with their children. In this technology driven age while parents try to get their kids to get off their game consoles, phones and step away from the TV, they are guilty too of overindulging with the TV and disconnecting from their children. 

I know I am guilty of this too and it has gotten worse. I searched the net and discovered an article from last year by TV correspondent and author of
The Digital Diet: The 4-step plan to break your tech addiction and regain balance in your life, Daniel Sieberg. Here are his basic steps from that piece on how to have a Digital Diet. 


Step 1: Rethink

Say you spend a total of two hours each day posting on Facebook or Twitter, mindlessly surfing the Web, sculpting your online image, or all of the above, in ways that don’t relate explicitly to your job. It doesn’t seem like much, but over the course of a year, that adds up to roughly 30 days — an entire month vanished in the ether. What do you have to show for it? What else could you have accomplished in that time? 

Even multitasking — the preferred excuse of the gadget-obsessed — isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A study published in the journal Science in April 2010 found that performing multiple simultaneous tasks leaves the brain somewhat baffled (the phrase “jack of all trades and master of none” comes to mind), while a 2009 Stanford University study found that massive multitaskers are easily distracted and have a hard time sorting out irrelevant information. This unfocused state often results in irrational decision-making. Our brains are, as Washington neurologist Richard Restak put it to me, being “sculpted” by digital forces. 

Step 2: Reboot
If you’re due for a detox, it’s best done over a weekend.
First, take your digital devices and assorted tech temptations — anything needing a charger — and put them in a box (yes, an actual box; it can be a shoebox or a dresser drawer). Second, and this is scary, give someone you trust the passwords to your social networking accounts (never for your bank or credit card accounts, of course), so they can change them to remove any temptation to log on. Third, set a message on your cellphone saying you won’t be available to check in for a couple of days (let callers assume you’re on a remote vacation). Fourth, stop sending texts. You can check your e-mail, but just once each day, maybe in the evening. For one weekend, downsize the communications technology in your life. 

You might enjoy checking the weather by stepping outside and looking up rather than tapping a smartphone icon. You can pick up a book rather than your laptop. You can exercise more, or engage in a conversation with someone face to face. Spend more time reading with your kids. Organize your closet. Pull out the musical instrument that has been gathering dust in the basement.
Over the detox weekend, get a regular old-school notebook and jot down your answers to the following questions: How are your face-to-face relationships with people close to you? How would you describe your reliance on the technology in the box? Are you terrified at the thought of disconnecting?
Revisit these questions constantly throughout your digital diet. 

Step 3: Reconnect
The point of the diet is not to eliminate gadgets from your life but to assign them their proper place. One way to do this is by being vigilant about your e-day — the time you spend online each day, from when your digital use starts to when it ends. 

During detox, the length of your e-day should be basically zero. As you build back to a healthy digital balance in your life, your e-day will grow — but it shouldn’t expand right back to where it was. 

Slowly, start using some of your gadgets again, at first for just a one-hour e-day. Keep a record in your notebook of the time spent with each one. Notice how your usage adds up, and ask yourself why you’re using each device. Has technology replaced something in your life that concerns you? Is your identity being shaped through social networks? (When something happens, do you find yourself thinking about how best to describe it on Facebook?) 

Begin to set some boundaries for your e-day. Establish limits on when people can expect to hear from you, for instance. (Even if you’re awake, don’t respond to work e-mails at 2 a.m.) Begin your e-day with a cup of coffee, sans gadgets, and end it by charging your devices in the kitchen overnight, not in your bedroom, where they will drain your personal energy and impede any snuggle time. Buy an alarm clock; if your BlackBerry or iPhone doubles as your alarm, it will demand your attention the moment you wake up. For one day, at least, set your smartphone to give no alerts for e-mails and texts. Check it when you choose to and on your own time.

Step 2: Reboot
If you’re due for a detox, it’s best done over a weekend.
First, take your digital devices and assorted tech temptations — anything needing a charger — and put them in a box (yes, an actual box; it can be a shoebox or a dresser drawer). Second, and this is scary, give someone you trust the passwords to your social networking accounts (never for your bank or credit card accounts, of course), so they can change them to remove any temptation to log on. Third, set a message on your cellphone saying you won’t be available to check in for a couple of days (let callers assume you’re on a remote vacation). Fourth, stop sending texts. You can check your e-mail, but just once each day, maybe in the evening. For one weekend, downsize the communications technology in your life. 

You might enjoy checking the weather by stepping outside and looking up rather than tapping a smartphone icon. You can pick up a book rather than your laptop. You can exercise more, or engage in a conversation with someone face to face. Spend more time reading with your kids. Organize your closet. Pull out the musical instrument that has been gathering dust in the basement. 

Over the detox weekend, get a regular old-school notebook and jot down your answers to the following questions: How are your face-to-face relationships with people close to you? How would you describe your reliance on the technology in the box? Are you terrified at the thought of disconnecting?
Revisit these questions constantly throughout your digital diet. 

Step 3: Reconnect
The point of the diet is not to eliminate gadgets from your life but to assign them their proper place. One way to do this is by being vigilant about your e-day — the time you spend online each day, from when your digital use starts to when it ends. 

During detox, the length of your e-day should be basically zero. As you build back to a healthy digital balance in your life, your e-day will grow — but it shouldn’t expand right back to where it was. 

Slowly, start using some of your gadgets again, at first for just a one-hour e-day. Keep a record in your notebook of the time spent with each one. Notice how your usage adds up, and ask yourself why you’re using each device. Has technology replaced something in your life that concerns you? Is your identity being shaped through social networks? (When something happens, do you find yourself thinking about how best to describe it on Facebook?) 

Begin to set some boundaries for your e-day. Establish limits on when people can expect to hear from you, for instance. (Even if you’re awake, don’t respond to work e-mails at 2 a.m.) Begin your e-day with a cup of coffee, sans gadgets, and end it by charging your devices in the kitchen overnight, not in your bedroom, where they will drain your personal energy and impede any snuggle time. Buy an alarm clock; if your BlackBerry or iPhone doubles as your alarm, it will demand your attention the moment you wake up. 

For one day, at least, set your smartphone to give no alerts for e-mails and texts. Check it when you choose to and on your own time.

Good luck! I'm going to be trying these one day!

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