National Day of Unplugging is on the First Friday of March. It is a day that encourages us to try to digitally detox and unplug for 24 hours, from sundown to sundown.
Nowadays, we are all attached to our smartphones, computers, TVs, and WiFi connections. All these things allow us to be on the internet 24-7 and because of this, sometimes we forget to be present in the real world. We can be more concerned about documenting our lives on social media. National Unplugging Day is the first step to being less dependent on technology, the perfect opportunity to unwind, read a book, go outside, and be with people, without being glued to our phones.
National Day of Unplugging was created in 2009, by the non-profit organization Reboot and the Sabbath Manifesto, who both realized that the increased usage of smartphones could have a long-term impact on people's mental health. Their goal is to encourage people to spend a whole day without electronics, including smartphones. The hope is that it will help people to slow down in a hectic world, and make them realize that technology does not need to be a constant presence in their lives.
The first National Day of Unplugging events started with small groups of people getting together for tech-free dinners, but today this holiday has partners all around the country and the world who sponsor live unplugged events every year. Today, the unplugging movement is a project of the Unplug Collaborative.
The Rise of Screen Time
These days it is possible to have your mobile phone produce a report of how much you use the device during the day, and the results can often be quite surprising. It is no secret that we are using our digital devices more and more, and screen time is increasing every year. The latest research shows that:
- Across the world, people spend an average of 6hrs and 58min looking at screens.
- The highest national average screen time is in South Africa where the people on average look at a screen for 10hrs and 46min. Other countries that watch a screen for more than 10hrs a day include Brazil, Colombia, and The Philippines.
- Countries such as America, The United Kingdom, and Singapore, have seen a reduction in the average number of hours of screen time over the past year.
- Other countries such as India, Turkey, and The UAE have seen an average increase of 0.66% in view time.
- 96.4% of people in The Philippines play video games, an average time of 1hr and 34 minutes a day.
- Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) have the highest screen time, averaging 9 hours a day.
With an increase across the globe in the amount of time people spend watching devices the need to spend a day unplugged has never been greater.
The Benefits of Unplugging
Smartphones and computers have given us many good things. Constant connection to the internet means that we have access to an immense amount of information, we can connect with people who are far away from us, and there are apps for everything that helps make our lives easier. However, this also comes with an array of negative consequences. We forget to connect with people in real life, we are always worried about making our lives look perfect on social media, and we sleep less. Technology can become a real addiction! Even 24 hours away from our phones can have many benefits, here are some:
It reduces stress. When we spend all the time on our phones we feel like we constantly need to be engaged with people and social media all the time. At the same time, seeing people post photos of their lives on their Instagram and Facebook can make us compare ourselves to them and feel like we need to live up to impossible standards. Stepping away from all this makes us appreciate our lives more, be more engaged in the moment, and it reduces pressure and stress.
- It has physical benefits. Most of us can attribute our terrible posture and back pain to our devices. Tech-Neck is a real thing, caused by people looking down at their phones all the time. Imagine a day free of neck pain and headaches!
It improves our mental health. As mentioned above, social media can make us feel inferior compared to others, and with it come feelings of jealousy, loneliness, and depression. At the same time, it is not healthy to be consuming a large quantity of bad news online all the time (this is known as doomscrolling). Stepping away from social media helps us get perspective, set boundaries with ourselves, and boost our self-esteem.
How to Celebrate National Day of Unplugging
Obviously, the first step is to step away from all your devices for a day. Turn your phone and laptop off at night and don't pick them up until the next evening (or longer, if you want to!).
Then, the possibilities are endless for what you can do with your day. You can read that book you've been meaning to pick up, go on a walk, take the time to cook a big meal, do those chores you've been putting off, or arrange beforehand to meet up with some friends and you can all spend your day unplugged but connecting in real life!