With the futuristic Google Glass now available to the masses, and social media the top activity performed online (it's overtaken watching porn as the foremost web-based activity), technology is officially ingrained in our lives. Words such as 'connect', 'share', 'like' and even 'friend' have an entirely different meaning now.
Worryingly, a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that during waking hours, eight to 18-year-olds are more likely to be online than doing anything else, even attending school. With this age group totting up over 50 hours a week on their devices, they're putting in more time than those of us with a full-time job.
While the quantity of exchange has undeniably gone up, experts fear that the quality has seen the opposite. With that in mind, have a read of these tips to unplug and balance your digital life a bit better, courtesy of Unplugged Weekend:
1. Don’t take your iPad to bed, it’s ruining your sex life
The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles shows that there has been a decrease in the amount of sex we have now, compared to 20 years ago. Experts are in part blaming the digital age for our lack of bedroom action, saying we are more likely to take technology to bed than a partner.
Banning technology from the bedroom can instantly improve your sex life
2. Ban the buzz
Turn vibrate off to avoid “phantom vibrate syndrome” aka hypovibrochondria - the sensation and false belief that you can feel or hear your mobile phone ringing. Doing this will remove that oh-so-common disappointment of a vibration going off in a group only to realise that, no, it’s not you.
3. Get time on your side
Get an alarm clock to wake you up instead sleeping with your phone under your pillow or by your bed side. Wear a watch rather than allowing your phone to be the go-to piece of tech for telling the time.
4. Start a digital swear-jar
With housemates, family or colleagues, every time someone checks their phone mid conversation, they have to put money in the digital swear-jar. This really highlights the amount that people use their phones while engaging with others. You can use the collection for a gadget free night out, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll raise funds.
Having a 'swear jar' for checking your phone mid-conversation could raise you a lot of money very quickly
5. Limit idle web-surfing
Use tech to beat tech and install an anti-procrastination tool on your computer. We like Self Control or Get Cold Turkey. Simply doing this will make a big impact on your day-to-day routine if you find yourself looking at your cousin's holiday pictures on Facebook, or getting into a Twitter row when you’re supposed to be doing work/accounts.
6. Ask a stranger for directions
Try not to rely on Google Maps for every turn. Asking somebody for directions forces us to engage in human connection. It could put a smile on your face, and theirs - people love knowing they’ve helped someone out. Plus, you could get some inside knowledge of the local area that a screen digital map couldn’t tell you.
7. Change your morning routine
On waking, instead of checking your social media or email write down (on paper) three things that you are grateful for. Appreciation can make you a happier person and more positive. Doing this evokes positive sentiments, so when you’re feeling low reading over this list can be a great reminder of all the good things in your life.
Not checking your phone first thing in the morning makes a difference to your overall happiness
8. Have a board game night
Get a group of friends round for some old school fun - no phones allowed. Remember how good Twister and Monopoly were? Make it a cool and quirky night in with friends by doing it with a few cocktails and retro nibbles, also great for getting different groups - like work colleagues or new neighbours - to know each other better.
9. Go outside
Make the most of the great outdoors and lose yourself in green space. A day out without your phone can feel liberating. You’re not going to be fumbling around for it in your bag, or giving it your full attention every time it goes off. It will allow you to more fully absorb and appreciate your surroundings. Plus being in a natural environment does wonders for your clearing your mind.
10. Find space to express yourself
140 characters just doesn’t cut it. Write a letter to a loved one - it will encourage you to write down all the things you never actually get a chance to say to them in the limited characters of a text. Get creative! If you’re struggling at home, then head down to one of our favourite events for crafting at The Make Escape or Drink Shop Do. There's lots of phone-free fun available at both.
Ultimately it's about balance. Having control over your devices, rather than the other way round. Use them, but don’t become addicted to them. If you feel like you could do with a break, come along on the next Unplugged Weekend on the 1st - 3rd August. Find out more at unpluggedweekend.com