How to Digitally Detox This Summer

By Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — August 12, 2014

Considering that 75% of U.S. employees (according to a Glassdoor survey) do not take all the vacation they are entitled to, whatever time taken should be free of work worries.
 
Alas, no.
 
Further stats show that 59% of Americans intend to do something job related while on holiday this summer (source: RetailMeNot).
 
In fact, connectivity has become an addiction and there is even a name for it—nomophobia. Not yet formally recognized, there is, however, a proposal out to include it in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
 
More and more research is being done about the effects of mobile technology on the brain and body
 
For example, writer and new age thinker Linda Stone discovered something called "email apnea" where users hold their breath or breathe very shallowly while checking messages on mobile devices. 
 
Bad posture while using technology also inhibits breathing, and yet, breath and health are interconnected affecting the immune and nervous systems and mental state.
 
A new term coined by Arianna Huffingtion—the "Third Metric" (with one and two being money and power)—calls for "our well-being, our ability to draw on our intuition and inner wisdom, our sense of wonder, and our capacity for compassion and giving."
 
None of this, she and other experts would argue, is possible when your are constantly looking down at your device rather than at the world around you, or recognizing the moment you are in.
 
Where on Earth
Political and socioeconomic issues notwithstanding—and dead spots on your commute don't count either—how far do you have to travel to be disconnected? Science journalist Rachel Nuwer sought to answer this question in an article for BBC.com.
 
Unless you have a satellite phone you are unlikely to have service in many of America's National Parks, Antarctica or the Cook Islands, according to Nuwer.  She also cited deep caves and deep water as devoid of coverage, albeit not the most practical spots to take the family.
 
There are other remote islands, deserts, mountain tops and forests in the U.S. and abroad where access is spotty, non-existent or exorbitantly priced. In rural areas here, it might be difficult but doable, but carriers and non-carriers alike are expanding infrastructure. Google, it seems, intends to connect the entire country.
 
There is one place in the U.S. that is a Federally mandated quiet zone, according to a report from NBCnews.com. That means cell phone use is banned by the government. The report said, "In 1958, the FCC created a 13,000-square-mile quiet zone to shield radio telescopes in Green Bank and Sugar Grove, W.Va., from harmful man-made interference, allowing scientists to study sounds emanating from galaxies all around the universe." It is also the one place you can still find pay phones.
 
Forced Interruption
So if you can't live in a cave or otherwise control yourself, what are other options for forced digital detox?
 
Yes, you guessed it—there's an app for that.
 
The "Digital Detox" app for Android available at Google Play, "irrevocably disables your phone for a period of time you specify, freeing you to explore the world outside and reclaim your headspace." The description further offers this disclaimer. "Warning: this isn't a joke. With Digital Detox, you can brick your phone for up to a month. Isn't that great?"
 
iOS users can "Pause" with the same named app that that adds gamification to the challenge. "Pause is a mobile app designed to help us reconnect with real life. Who is more addicted, you or your friends? Pause uses a leaderboard so you can compete and compare the amount of time you spend looking at the world beyond a touchscreen."
 
The app enables you to set your phone to airplane mode for a set amount of time and tracks the duration. It also allows you to invite others to "Pause with you." A little less hardcore then brickification…
 
Also for iOS, "Sabbath Manifesto" is an app that simply allows you to tell your friends (and boss?) that you are taking time off from technology.
 
Camp Disconnect
If you want to combine vacation with disconnection, send yourself to camp. Camp Grounded in Anderson Valley, CA is "where grown-ups go to unplug, getaway and be kids again... disconnect to reconnect."
 
Rules include "No W-Talk" – meaning talking about work is "strictly prohibited" and "No digital technology."
 
In case you don't quite get it, there is a disclaimer that states: "Let’s be clear. This is not a conference, a networking event or meet-up opportunity to make contacts that further your career. There will be no cocktail hour or welcoming reception for anyone to explain what they do, play the 'we know the same people' game, or try and figure out how they can connect again after they return to the workplace."
 
If you are looking for professional development, but no technology, CAMP is a creative conference that taps into both the left and right side of the brain in order to inspire the most change and discovery. "CAMPers take part in business workshops and creative craft classes,  listen to inspirational speakers, and face outdoor challenges to stimulate all senses…It's an experience that will open your mind, connect you to an amazing community of influencers and show you that four days in the woods (unplugged from email and cell phones)."
 
For a quick weekend, Camp Kitigin, sponsored by the Michigan Recreation & Park Association, has August and September weekend sessions. "This screen-free event is perfect for the 21-and-older professional who needs to remember how to play again." No smartphones, no tablets, no laptops, no Wifi, however, emergencies or after-dinner family check-ins are allowed.
 
For a continuing practice of managing technology, work and life, consider the Wisdom 2.0 conferences. "Wisdom 2.0 addresses the great challenge of our age: to not only live connected to one another through technology, but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective in our work, and useful to the world."

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