Posted on April 30, 2015 at 6:00 am
Disconnecting for an entire week can seem like a daunting task, especially in our increasingly digital world. But outside of work and homework assignments, turning off our electronics can be a great way to reconnect with our family, friends, and the world around us.
Next week is Screen-Free Week, an annual event where people make an effort to unplug from their digital entertainment and spend time away from their TVs, tablets, computers, and smart phones. In lieu of screen time, people are encouraged to celebrate the world outside their screens and spend time playing games, reading, painting, playing sports, and more.
I chose to participate in my own Screen-Free Week earlier this month so that I could share my experience and tips for others who are considering taking on the challenge. Being a Screen-Free Week novice and knowing just how much I enjoy my Internet and television, I didn’t expect it to be easy. However, I set my mind to making it the entire week without television or Internet except at work. So with some trepidation, I turned off my electronics one Sunday evening with every intention of leaving them off until the next weekend.
I learned one thing very early in the week—I depend on the Internet for more than just Facebook. Most of my favorite recipes and craft patterns are on Pinterest; I play the app version of some of my favorite board games with my family almost every evening; and I love to price check and grab coupons when I visit stores. Cutting myself some slack, I decided that spending some time online finding activities I could do offline or using screen time to connect with my family (who live on the other side of the state) was well within the spirit of Screen-Free Week.
The second thing I discovered was that I had a lot of free time on my hands. I didn’t realize how much time I wasted in front of digital entertainment until I removed it from my options for the week. Suddenly, I had all this time to fill and it was honestly a bit scary. Once I got over the shock of actually having free time, I decided to try some new activities and revisit some hobbies I hadn’t done in a while. Here are a few things I did during my Screen-Free Week:
The list could really go on, but what amazed me most was how many things I enjoyed doing that I wouldn’t have even done any other week. Even as I wrote this post, I realized my biggest takeaway from Screen-Free Week. For me it’s not necessarily about turning off all of my electronics and walking away entirely, but rather paying attention to what you’re watching or doing online and if it really makes me happier than something else.
Even though I didn’t avoid my screens entirely, I consider my Screen-Free Week endeavor a success. I wasn’t perfect but I also didn’t just plop myself in front of reruns on television while I mindlessly skimmed Facebook and read BuzzFeed articles all evening. And although I’m not ready to discard my iPad or television anytime soon, I definitely enjoyed my experience and look forward to doing it again next year.
Give Screen-Free Week a try next week from May 4-10! If you find yourself stumped for things to do, consider one of these activities:
Share your screen-free experiences with us in the comments below!