Do you suffer from pesky subscription emails you never read, or apps with unnecessary red notification bubbles? You need a cleansing digital detox.
Health Life

Start Fall Fresh with a Cleansing Digital Detox

Do you suffer from pesky subscription emails you never read, or apps with unnecessary red notification bubbles? You need a cleansing digital detox.

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By Dr. Tracy Bennett of Get Kids Internet Safe

Summer is almost over. Now that fall is here, I reflect on summer memories made and missed.

My husband and I both work, so bringing home the bacon makes world travel impossible at the moment. Besides, when given open choice on how to spend a free day, my kids most often clamor for a jammy-day. And the special vacation memories? Check!

Our summer road trip offered evening strolls, lake kayaking, and family days of teeter-totters and barbecues. All in all, we’ve done well with our summer. Yet in the waning days of its end, I feel guilty. Facebook shows me Paris, dirt bike riding, and waterskiing. Did we do enough? Did I squeeze out every opportunity? Did my neurotic need to clear the little red bubbles off my iPhone eat too much precious summertime?

I was raised on work before play. Before I created GetKidsInternetSafe, the boundary between work and play was an easy line to recognize. I was either at my office, or I wasn’t. But then work creeped in on my phone, my laptop, and my car stereo. My free time became “populated” with content, and my Persistent Person Disorder (PPD)* honed in on my iPhone’s ever-rising red notification bubbles.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen PPD that’s clinically impairing. My PPD is “lite.” After all, my persistence gave us the income for the road trip. My husband and I aren’t trust babies. And my persistence creates content for families that may literally save a life here and there, or preserve one worth living. But the key to intelligence is analysis and constant improvement.

Dude, I need fewer red notification bubbles.

Let’s consider the advice of the experts, those who are facing the end of their lives in hospice care. The top 5 regrets of the dying are said to be:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. (Psychologists call these the “shoulds.”)
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Are you reflecting? Is your time best spent in the care of yourself and those you love?

For me, staying true to myself means being in service to others. Being a parent, friend, and psychologist nurtures who I am and provides opportunity for expression. And in order to provide optimum resources for these nurturing activities, I must regularly sort out the unnecessary tasks that burn too much brain fuel.

In service of rescuing more meaningful moments, here are the GetKidsInternetSafe’s 6 effective ways to cleanse your digital palette:

Trim the digital fat

Those of us who suffer from PPD-Lite have to be on a balanced diet by consistently purging the digital desserts that bloat us with empty calories. Those Facebook friends who annoy you? The pesky subscription emails you never read? The apps with unnecessary little red terrorist notifications? DELETE THEM. Only preserve the digital notifications that have a worthwhile purpose. Your precious brain fuel depends on it.

Set healthy screen boundaries

Carve out blackout times and situations where screen media is not allowed, for kids and parents. Brains need rest. Agree to no screens in bedrooms, behind closed doors, or at mealtime. Triggering a data chase when your time is better spent resting or engaging with those you love can add up to tragic lost opportunity. And for kids, unsupervised screen use increases risk dramatically.

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Recognize that multitasking is a myth

We must face it. Our brains are built for one task at a time. Toggling between tasks takes longer and burns oxygenated glucose, the very brain energy you need to be productive. Block schedule and do one task at a time rather than trying to juggle several and doing them all poorly. And don’t trust yourself if you think you multitask awesomely. People can’t accurately assess response cost.

Get your eyes off your screen and onto your people

It may be fun to gobble up free screen media activity, but you will hate yourself for missing out on precious moments with friends and family. And those servers and colleagues that help you out everyday? They’re people too. A witty interaction here and there fuels your happy center. Make sure you snack on random acts of friendliness often in the non-digital world. Your emotional fitness requires it.

Stop with the picture-taking and make mad passionate love with mindfulness

The psychological research is exploding with impressive results about the restorative qualities of mindfulness, imagery, and meditation. It’s irrefutable evidence that being fully engaged and emotionally present is as essential as broccoli and filtered water. Make it happen and often. That means less Facebook, less guilt.

Bone up on rejuvenating self-soothing

In order to keep your inner productive beast in-line, you must hire a mental-emotional security detail. Your most effective soldiers are diaphragmatic breathing, cognitive restructuring (changing your stinking thinking into happy celebratory thinking), and yoga. Not only do these techniques calm your heart and mind, they are also great for the body. Family, friends, community, and faith also nourish your spirit.

As you squeeze out the precious remaining moments of of warm weather, may your digital piles disappear and your smiles replenish!

*I made up the term “Persistent Person Disorder,” because I’m creative like that.

This piece was originally published on Get Kids Internet Safe



About the Author

I am a grateful mother of three feisty kids, a psychologist, and a university professor. My passion is soaking in the beautiful chaos of my busy home and helping GetKidsInternetSafe (because I hear the inside stories why we need it)! Find me on Facebook and Twitter.