As I walk around the HCSS campus on any given day, I can find someone walking around wearing Google glasses, flying drones, using a 3D printer, driving an excavator simulator, or attending a virtual meeting using the Double robot. At the same time, I see people conducting walking meetings, collaborating in the courtyard, working out, or even meshing out ideas over a game of H-O-R-S-E. At HCSS, as much as we indulge with cutting edge technology, we are also able to easily unplug from technology when needed. I believe it is the culture at HCSS that allows employees to decouple from technology and encourage them to maintain a healthy balance. I recently learned how important this balance is and how distracting technology can be when this balance is disrupted.
I have two kids - an eight year old son and a five year old daughter. Over the last couple of months, we have seen technology subtly invade our family. What started as a fun, keep-them-busy diversion turned into a relentless pursuit to seek out screen time. My kids felt that disappearing into digital devices for hours was an appropriate pastime. My wife and I were in constant competition against technology for our children’s attention. Although, we were aware of this problem and had established some guidelines, we were doing a poor job of enforcing them. I finally had it one Sunday when I woke up at six in the morning and found that both my kids were sneakily watching TV and playing on the iPad at the same time. In a state of annoyance, I declared Sundays as ‘no media Sundays’. There would be absolutely no use of technology from 8:00am to 9:30pm on Sundays in our house from that day onwards.
Still upset, I went online (it was before 8:00am) to research how other families have successfully undergone a technology detox. I came across this contract.
I printed it out, made edits to suit our family, explained the contract to my kids, and had the entire family sign it - that’s right, my wife and I signed it too. I’ll admit I was skeptical as to how long this would last, but so far we have made it 5 weeks and have recently amended the contract to include meal time and car time as well.
As we went through this exercise, we realized how much us as parents were relying on technology to do our jobs. My wife and I have to now spend time planning out our Sundays with activities such as outdoors play, arts, building things, and board games that were lost in this intrusion. The frequency of us hearing “I am bored” has gone down and the kids have found other creative ways to keep themselves busy.
So here’s a challenge for you: Select one day of the week and declare it a “No Technology Day” and use that opportunity to do something special with your family. And don’t worry - the world will not pass you by if you don’t check your email, send a Tweet, update your Facebook status, or post a selfie for one day.
Please share your experience with us. Do you have any ideas/examples on how you were able to successfully unplug from technology? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org