"Dad... Dad... Dad! Watch!"
"Just a second honey," you say as you turn back to finish reading your work email.
We've all been there. So plugged into our technology that we let actual life pass us by without notice. According to the most recent comScore Report, 133.7 million Americans own smartphones. That number doesn't even take into account tablets, laptops and the countless other devices that people use to connect to the virtual world. With summer vacation right around the corner, family time should be a priority, but lately it has been co-opted by bosses who want you available 24/7 and kids who have tantrums if they can't watch their favorite movie.
Psychologist Dr. Mike Fraser, who specializes in Internet and Gaming Addiction, has noticed that over the past couple of years, the number of calls to his office concerning excessive screen time has increased. "Whether a laptop, tablet, smartphone or video game device, more and more people are losing productive time at work and school" says Dr. Fraser. "Some are having arguments with their parents or significant others and in the worst cases, even becoming physically aggressive when the screens are turned off or taken away."
It's time to take a stand for everyone's health and talk about a digital detox while on vacation. Instead of going digital-free cold turkey, it is important to set you and your family up for success. Try these tips and I guarantee that you'll return relaxed and refreshed and not in need of a vacation from your vacation.
Make the Detox Decision as a Family - Don't spring a digital detox on the kids or your partner, talk it out! Vacation time is about the group, so make everyone feel included. Sit down before you leave and explain why a digital detox is a much-needed piece of vacation. Let everyone have his or her say, then compromise. It doesn't mean you have to leave all devices at home, but set limits on both time and place spent in front of the screen.
Plan Group Activities - Whether you are headed to the beach, the jungle or a cabin in the woods, make a decision to be active. Get out and experience nature. Listen to the sounds, take in the smells and go for a walk. If you take surfing lessons or visit the local petting zoo, you are guaranteed to have something exciting to talk about during dinner. Plus, an added benefit of physical exercise is a better night's sleep.
Still don't think you can do it on your own? Then get a little support.
Choose a Vacation Place or Property that Limits Connectivity - Resorts and hotels around the world are hearing your cries and have decided to step in and help. Do some research and book your stay at a property that only offers Wi-Fi in the lobby or has dead-zones that limits your ability to connect. Go one step further and head to a U.S. National Park where the buffalo roam and a 'no service' symbol will give you no other choice than to disconnect.
Still worried because you use your smartphone to take family photos? Switch it into airplane mode so you won't be interrupted by the constant ping of incoming mail or social media updates. This summer, make the choice to do a digital detox and grab some screen-free time with your family. You may even learn a bit more about them.