Trying to disconnect from a digital world

My daughter celebrated her eighth birthday in mid December.

In her life time the way that we communicate has been revolutionised. When she entered the world facebook was in its infancy and smartphones, tablet computers and twitter were on the way to be conceived and joining the technology boom.

Most of us connected 24/7: how many of us turn our phones or tablets on before doing anything else when we wake up in the morning. We’re rarely away from devices of varying sizes: one eye on the latest text or tweet and one eye on the real world (just about).

Like many I communicate in a fundamentally different way from a decade ago. And yet I can remember a world before total connectivity. I know that I spend too much time tapping away at emails or sharing wise thoughts on twitter.

Technology feels so liberating and yet in many ways its totally controlling. We’ve come to expect instant responses and can get grumpy if someone doesn’t email back quickly.

The digital age has been changing so quickly that the rules of engagement haven’t been set. How many emails are too many? How long staring at a screen smaller than a post card is bad for you.

Recommendations around screen usage are slowly being diagnosed by the medical and psychology professions. Yes digital devices have opened up opportunities that we could have only dreamed up a few years back. But we need a break to keep a check on reality.

On the trains we’re all glued to screens, at home we’re often multi-screening and we feel apprehensive if we leave the home without a smartphone or tablet.

The only way to keep our connection with people and the world around is to switch off. Its not difficult and its liberating. Going on a digital detox diet is one of the best things that you can do in 2015. You won’t miss out on anything and might re-discover things that you’d forgotten about and find that face to face conversation and laughter is what makes life special.

Yes my daughter uses the laptop and looks at google maps on my iPad. But it represents a fraction of her time and she gets her real kicks from playing outdoors or spending hours drawing. And it’s a time to talk to each other.

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