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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

National Day of Unplugging is Almost Here: 5 Healthy Ways to Help You and Your Family Unplug From Te

Technology is an important part of our lives and as most of you know, I love technology. With anything in life, moderation is very important but some of us go overboard with the way we use technology. Overuse of technology is a real problem in our country and it isn’t just a problem for kids, it's a problem for adults too. To help bring awareness about this growing problem, the non-profit group Reboot has created National Day of Unplugging, which is March 9th - 10th this year. This day is designed to help you get in the habit of taking a 'digital detox' and and make more of an effort to reconnect with family and friends. Do you have a problem putting down your devices? Here are some tips to help you disconnect.

Most of you don't think technology over usage is a problem, but did you know that the average smartphone user checks their device 150 times a day. If you're awake for 15 hours, you're checking your devices at least ten times an hour. Checking in on friends’ frequent vacations, food pictures, and date nights create a constant state of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and anxiety. People obsessively refresh our social media feeds followers because they’re afraid to be "on the outside" of news, events, and social gatherings. But at the end of the day, browsing photos from other people’s fun times is not the same as attending those parties and picnics and actually hanging out with friends in the flesh. Studies show that we actually need weekends and nights off to disconnect and recuperate from the stresses of work. Like your muscles, the brain needs recovery time in order to develop and grow.

Want to learn how to take a digital detox, follow these steps:

1. Take the National Day of Unplugging Pledge. It may be hard, but visit and take the pledge to unplug or reduce your technology usage for a 24 hour period and do things that don't involve technology. Doing the detox, can help you get in the habit of putting down your technology.

2. Get Help with Disconnecting from Technology by downloading an programs and apps. If you find it hard to disconnect on your own there are several apps you can use to help you:

Freedom. Works for Windows, Macintosh, smartphones and tablets. Choose what you want to block and how long to block. The best part is Freedom is hard to stop. You have to wait until the timer ends so you can get back online! It’s also perfect for parents who want to let their children use a device without access to the Internet.

Offtime. Works for iOS and Android. For a chosen period, you can choose to block calls, texts and notifications that might disturb you, but you can also make exceptions for important contacts so that they can still get through.

Do Not Disturb on iOS. The Do Not Disturb feature on iOS devices allow you to keep collecting all your alerts, but in a quiet manner. It’s ideal for when you’re in a meeting, on a romantic date, or just need to get a good night’s sleep without having to completely turn off your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

Priority Mode for Android Devices. The Priority Mode feature on Android devices silences your alerts based on settings you choose. It allows only the most important alerts or “Interruptions” to get your attention.

3. Carve out time during the week or on the weekends to disconnect from your devices. Sunday is the day that I unplug from technology and recharge for the week. Going to the gym, leave the phone at home or just stream music from your device. Stay off social media. Put the phone away if you are watching TV or movies with your significant other or kids. If you have to work at home at night, do it after connecting with your family or if you live alone, just relax and have some alone time. Make dinner time a 'no tech' time and create 'no tech' zones in your home for yourself and your kids.

4. Turn off push notifications. Your technology alone isn't the main reason for you wanting to stay connected. A major problem is all of the push notifications that are always popping up, buzzing and demanding your attention. Apps for smartphones and tablets are designed to keep you connected. Don't want to be lured in? Turn off the notifications.

5. Shut Down Your Technology At Bed Time. When you disconnect from technology before bedtime, you give your brain the opportunity to unwind, which leads to a more restful sleep cycle. Research published by the National Academy of Sciences found that technology usage before bed can disrupt your patterns of sleep. This is because the backlight from your devices decreases melatonin production. which affects sleep.

Do you take a break from technology? How often do you unplug? Will you be joining The National Day of Unplugging on March 9-10? Drop me a line and let me know.

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