Kate Hawkesby: We could all use a digital detox

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Monday, 2 July 2018, 6:41AM
Back in the day, people used to talk to each other rather than texting or watching TV - imagine that! (Photo / NZ Herald)

Yesterday was National Digital detox day in case you didn’t know it.

Ironically how you would’ve known is if you were on Facebook, the digital platform where it was advertised.

I’m not surprised we’re now calling for detoxes. After the gradual digitization of our entire lives, and the flurry of gadgets and devices that now rule our homes, it was only a matter of time before we started rebelling against it. Think about how many devices are in your house; how many times you see your kids eyes instead of the tops of their heads, how often there is silence because everyone's on a screen..

When I was growing up, ‘back in the olden days’, as my daughter so eloquently puts it, our house was noisy. It was noisy because there were no screens, bar a TV that only went on at night for the news. We were forced to actually speak to each other. We knew dinner was ready because Mum yelled it out to us, as opposed to sending us a text.

Perversely these days, it’s often the ones who’re most obsessed with the screens who’re also the ones complaining about them. How many times has your child asked you to hop off your phone? The smart phone has become an extension of our hand, we’re not often away from it. News, messages, emails, alerts and notifications - not to mention social media.

I recently trawled through Instagram and deleted a whole bunch of accounts I follow to limit how much content I was scrolling through that was simply a waste of my time. It was liberating. I don’t use Twitter, I’m barely on Facebook. Social media has become a huge stealer of our time. So a digital detox or a self-imposed ban on screens is not a bad idea.

Not logging on first thing when you wake up, not scrolling Instagram, not watching You Tube means more time for reconnecting with the simple things like getting outdoors, or actually talking to (instead if texting) your family.

A survey out of Britain recently said 60 per cent of parents were fed up with how much time their kids spent on screens. The experts say we should view screen time the same way we view junk food, a little in moderation is fine, too much is not OK. Digital detoxing is about finding a healthy balance.

And if screen time is akin to junk food then Fortnite must be like a giant Big Mac Combo with extra fries. Anyone with a teenager obsessed with Fortnite will know what I’m talking about.

The thing that worries me about screens and kids is the late night blue light thing. Kids are finding it harder and harder to get to sleep, they’re too stimulated by screens, but then again, so are we. So hats off to everyone who digital detoxed yesterday. I guess if we want our kids to moderate their screen time, we have to start by role modelling it ourselves. 

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