Our family recently attempted a weekend digital detox experiment with great success and interesting results.
The more I learn about electromagnetic radiation, the more concerned I am with the impact on the brain and overall health. I am determined to reduce our exposure. My goal is to help my kids live practically and safely in a world that has allowed technology to proliferate with little question asked about health ramifications.
Our electromagnetic journey unknowingly began when we were exposed to high levels of toxic mold in 2008. Later I would learn that the blanket of electromagnetic fields built into our home, or any home for that matter, likely multiplied our exposure. (See Toxic Mold and Electromagnetic Radiation.)
We spent many years altering our diet and seeking safe shelter. We eliminated chemicals and embraced a more natural lifestyle. I thought about electromagnetic fields, but felt too overwhelmed by the complexity of the science.
As I pursued my certification in the field of Building Biology I was forced to address the issue. I found the material to be understandable and practical. I began to reduce our exposure in earnest.
I began with night-time exposure. It’s one of the best ways to begin. The body needs recovery time from the electromagnetic “chaos” of the day. We turned off our router each night initially. It was a start. (Learn more about creating a sleep sanctuary in the post Sleep, Melatonin and Electronic Devices.)
We then transitioned away from Wi Fi. This was not an easy task due to our home’s lack of Ethernet accessibility. We succeeded eventually and now use our Wi Fi sparingly. (See From Wireless to Wired – Our Family’s Journey.) Here’s a staged photo from last fall highlighting our “device lifestyle”.
Most recently I attended the Expert Forum on Cell Phone and Wireless Risks to Children, an event sponsored by ElectromagneticHealth. Org and Environmental Health Trust. I came away challenged and even more determined to continue on this path. Among the keynote speakers was integrative child psychiatrist Dr. Victoria Dunckley.
Dr. Dunckley has found that everyday use of interactive screen devices easily overstimulate a child’s nervous system, triggering mood issues, attention problems and meltdowns. Her prescribed four-week electronic fast has proven itself to be her top treatment for ADHD, bipolar illness, autism and a myriad of other childhood disorders.
Her book, Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time, outlines this no-cost, non-pharmaceutical treatment plan. (Her book is available through the website Reset Your Child’s Brain.)
Our Family Digital Detox Experiment
Last weekend we turned off our computer access on Friday afternoon. I answered my last email and shut down my computer. I can’t recall a time I have ever been away from my computer for more than 24 hours. I was a bit daunted to say the least.
I wondered how I would record all of my blogging ideas. We have no lined paper in the home! I bought a notebook.
Our three teens and one adult child were on board. (Some with more trepidation than others.) Chris was not just on board, he was excited to have a weekend away from his email.
Friday night was spent sitting outside and continuing our read aloud book. The transition was easier than I expected. I woke up Saturday morning and felt a bit of anxiety as I walked by my computer. After a brief sense of withdrawal I noticed a sense of relief as I thought about the morning chores and the day ahead.
My biggest relief was knowing I didn’t have to worry about my kids’ screen time. I never feel like we’re doing enough to limit them and easily fall into a pattern of letting go of our screen boundaries. With our digital detox, there were no decisions!
The weekend flew by. In a blink it was Sunday night and I knew I had witnessed something profound. Children with or without health issues need a break from their screens. Adults do too.
The impact on me:
- More focused
- Less anxiety
- Less rushed
- Improved mood
The impact on my teens:
- Less fighting
- Less arguing
- Improved mood
- Improved attitude
When I turned my computer back on Monday morning I faced more than 100 emails. I plowed through them in less than 45 minutes. I got an email from Chris (who had a similar amount) saying he made it through his in 30 minutes. We were far more focused and efficient.
Monday afternoon I shut my computer down at 3pm. I now know my email and other online duties can wait. I’ll be far more alert and on task when I come back to it.
My teens clearly enjoyed the weekend. Mom and Dad were less preoccupied and more available for board games and conversation.
This won’t be the last digital detox for our family. The benefits were too dramatic.
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linda spiker says
Wow could my husband and I use this. We are awful. Always looking at out phones.
Megan Stevens says
Wonderful!! I love what you did with your extra time. We always read aloud to our kids… and games. And being outside, chores even. Sounds liberating. Thanks for the inspiration.
Marjorie @ This is so good... says
I love this idea! I also feel more refreshed and efficient when I have taken a little digital detox. Thanks for sharing your experience!
I love this idea and its a good reminder too. Conversation is good for the kids to learn and something many of us are forgetting to enjoy
I’m just starting to research and understand this issue. Maybe this is a silly question, but I’m wondering how it works when you have wifi that extends from a neighbors home. If our wifi is off will our neighbors still have an affect on our home?
Andrea Fabry says
Great question, Janet. A meter would show you the levels that remain in your home once your wi-fi is off. I can assure you that every step matters and reducing your home’s use of wi-fi is a positive.
Good point – we would still be reducing our exposure. Do you recommend a specific meter?
Andrea Fabry says
This is the one we have. I have lots of videos demonstrating it. There’s a video that goes with this one in particular linked: