Lock on a laptop's keyboard - sign of digital detox time.

Inspired by America’s National Day of Unplugging which took place on 1st-2nd March 2019, a couple of the Cantium Marketing Team decided to challenge themselves to see if they could survive a digital detox.

Read on to find out how they got on

Danielle Hayon on digital detox

Digital Marketing Executive

“I started my day being woken by the alarm tone on my mobile (I always fear a power cut will set my alarm clock back to 00:00, potentially letting me sleep through). I checked my messages, scrolled through Facebook, then remembered – digital detox! I realised I hadn’t told anyone I was planning a digital free day and knew my friends and family would panic that I had gone off the grid, so I messaged them to let them know. I felt quite excited about the day to come and thought about how liberating it would be. I was ready to feel relaxed and be able to focus on my daily tasks without distraction, wondering how much extra I would get done. My first error, however, was not turning the phone off completely. I could hear my message tone beeping and buzzing and knew I had messages there to read, the speed of which told me they were likely from a group chat that I was missing out on!

I worried about multiple things as I started to go about my day; if someone really needed me, if something had happened, if someone had to change plans. I don’t have a landline and was alone in the house so someone would potentially have to drive to my house to alert me of anything urgent! I managed my daily tasks for a few hours, having been more productive but certainly not relaxed, then gave in and checked for any potential emergencies (and replied to a few messages). I managed better in the afternoon when I was with friends and had the reassurance that there were plenty of ways people could get hold of me if needed, although I did pick up my phone countless times before remembering I was on detox.

I went to the supermarket with my written list of ingredients instead of my useful screenshot but still took my phone in the event of any car problems. This got me thinking about the days before most people were armed and prepared with a mobile phone; would you have had to abandon your car to locate the nearest house and ask to use their phone to get help? Thinking about how awkward and embarrassing this would be made me glad to have decided to bring back up in the form of my iPhone.

I managed digital free until the evening at which point I gave in and checked my emails as I popped the TV on. Had a quick look for any texts and WhatsApp messages but didn’t have any, probably because I told everyone I was going digital free, but still felt a tiny bit disappointed. Having been so used to knowing what everyone is doing, where they are going, how they are feeling, it felt a little isolating having no idea what was going on outside of my four walls. Messaged my friends and family to tell them I was back online and they all replied, bringing my phone back to its usual lively buzzing and putting a smile on my face.

Afterward, I realised how much time I spend absently scrolling through random posts on Instagram and Facebook, usually just looking at what others are doing, achieving, and all the best parts of their day that they want to share with the world. It’s easy to see how this can make people feel anxious as they start to compare their lives against this rose-tinted perspective. It strikes me that although the connection we get with friends and family is invaluable, for something we do in a free moment to ‘relax’, there may be better ways to unwind at the end of the day.”

 

Samantha Vandersteen on digital detox

Marketing Manager

“After a recent incident where I broke out in a cold sweat when I thought my phone was broken, I knew I would struggle with a digital detox.  However, I decided to give it a go!  The first challenge came when I was putting my little boy to bed.  This is a time when I would normally be checking emails, scrolling through social media or catching up on the news on my phone while he drifts off to sleep.  Without a phone to distract me I decided to go old school and read a book.  I love reading but it’s not often I pick up an actual book anymore and it did make a nice change to be staring at a page instead of a screen.

With my husband out at a work event, I thought I would continue reading my book once my little boy was asleep, but alone at home on a Friday night the house seemed too quiet, so I did cave in and put the TV on.  I often scroll through social media while watching TV and I made a real effort to put the phone aside and concentrate on what I was watching.  Not technically a digital detox but at least I was concentrating on just one form of technology.

The next morning a 5.30am wake-up call from my little boy meant that the TV went on immediately so “PJ Masks” could entertain him while I caught a little bit more sleep.  Another detox fail (and I’m pretty sure most parenting experts would say parenting fail too).  A little while later, awake, alert and being run ragged by my little boy, it was much easier to stick to the detox as I didn’t get much time to pick my phone up anyway.  As a snap happy Mum, I did reach for it a few times to take a photo but decided to just stay in the moment instead.

I break the detox again at lunchtime when my little boy asks for music while I am making lunch. We play music through Spotify on Google Home while he makes random demands for songs.  It strikes me that even at 3 years old, it is so easy for him to access any song in the world and he will never know what a cassette or even a CD is.  Aiming to get both of us away from technology for a while, we take a trip to the park which is one of his favourite things to do.  I almost check the weather app on my phone before we go but stop myself and just pack an extra layer in my bag instead.

Later, the detox goes out of the window completely when my little boy comes out in what we suspect is Chicken Pox.  I do what any sane parent (or insane – depending on which way you look at it) would do and start Googling immediately.

All in all, I didn’t do too well at going digital free and it was definitely eye-opening how much I rely on technology each day.  Since then I have tried to be more aware of how often I pick my phone up and whether I am doing this for a good reason or just to have an idle scroll.  If it’s the latter, I have been making a real effort to put it down and find something else to do or even just do nothing for a bit.”

 

Do you think you could survive a digital detox?  Read our blog post “How to Take a Digital Detox” for some ideas on other ways you could spend your time.