04 Jul It’s Time for an Unplugged Summer
Summer school holidays are now almost on us so it’s time to welcome back our annual family Summer Unplugged challenge! During the pandemic our challenge took a bit of a break with everyone unavoidably stuck to their screens, but now’s the time to dust off the cobwebs of all those favourite analogue family activities and rediscover what a summer without screens really feels like. Your mental and physical health, your productivity, creativity, and your relationships will all benefit from giving it a go.
What is the Summer Unplugged digital detox challenge?
Summer holidays are all about relaxing, recharging and spending time with our loved ones away from the stresses and strains of our work lives. But so many of us stay tethered to our workplaces and our daily worries, even when we try and take a break. Summer Unplugged is all about putting down the phone (and screens), disconnecting from work worries and toxic social media comparisons and reconnecting with those right in front of us – our family.
If you’ve been feeling that everyone’s screen habits have got out of control over the past couple of years, summer is the perfect time of year to have a little digital detox adventure and rediscover the things you used to enioy doing as a family, before everyone’s heads became permanently stuck in their phones.
Get involved with the 2022 Summer Unplugged challenge
We’ve come up with nine ideas to give you a kick start. But don’t let us limit you – have a chat as a family and see what unique rules or activities you can come up with to put your personal family stamp on the challenge – good luck!
#1 Connect with nature
We’re simply overwhelmed with research telling us all the good things that happen when we get out in nature – and yet we’re spending less and less time outside, as our lives become more insular and screen-based. Just two hours a week in a green space has been proven to make us healthier and happier. So the number one activity for your digital detox challenge should be to try and spend more time outside this summer. How about an hour a day to start with?
#2 Phone free food
Lots of families tell us how phones and food are a real pain point for them, everyone checking their phones at mealtimes is a bone of contention (and that’s parents doing it, as well as children). Why not set as part of your digital detox challenge a ‘phone free food’ intention and, just for the holidays, resolve to all eat together with screens firmly banned?
#3 Un-install work email and social media from your phones
We’re not saying you shouldn’t be in touch with your work, but if you restrict checking to your laptop you’re going to be creating an easy boundary which means you can go out and about on holiday and have more of a break. The same goes for social media. Try deleting one or both from your phones for a pre-determined period of time and see how much more headspace it gives you.
#4 Have a whole day (or half day) out without your phones
This one is a challenge you’ll want to work up to. And don’t try this unless you know the place you’re going to quite well – this is not the challenge for an unfamiliar route or destination. Instead, on a trip out to the park, swimming pool or local attraction, try leaving your phone behind for a screen-free break. You’ll be exercising all those unfamiliar brain cells for navigation, communication and focus. Don’t forget you can always take an analogue phone with you for real emergencies.
#5 Banish phones from the bedroom
This has always been our top piece of advice for getting a better balance with tech. All those screens in bedrooms play havoc with our sleep in a major way. For the summer holidays, buy some alarm clocks for the whole family and banish phones from the bedroom when you’re sleeping. Try it for a few test nights to start with and see how everyone feels. We don’t know anyone who’s tried this who hasn’t agreed they’ve got a great night’s sleep as a result.
#6 Use airplane mode
We absolutely love airplane mode and we don’t just reserve it for when we’re in the air. ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode is just as good. If you aren’t already using these on a regular basis, why not? Make this summer the time you try them out and see how they can help you get a break.
#7 Set individual unplugging goals
We all use tech in very different ways and we all have different lifestyles and challenges. Talk about how you all individually want to redraw your habits and see if you can each find a personal goal to work towards. Someone at home may want to set a time to log off work email every night, another may want to reduce hours spent gaming, someone may really want to cut down on social media scrolling. Set a challenge to come up with your personal digital detox goals for the summer – then share them.
#8 Play more!
Screens make us pretty sedentary, we’re sitting down using them and we’re not being very active. Make a list of all the games you could play off screens – using a bat, a ball, a frisbee, a hoop and similar – and work your way through them this summer. Don’t forget paper and pen games and arts and crafts too.
#9 Start small
Your digital detox doesn’t have to last all summer, or even for all of your holiday. Start small with a defined period of time off screens and build up. A Sunday afternoon without screens is a great place to start and should be doable. Even walking to the corner shop, or taking the dog out, without your phone is a win. Take baby steps and work up to longer periods of time if you’re all enjoying the results.
Let us know how you’re finding the challenge by using the #SummerUnplugged hashtag online (when you’re logged back on) – we’d love to see how you’re getting on!
For more about how to get a healthy balance with tech: My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open is out now