This summer, my daughter and I are going on a digital detox. Join us?

Like many, I have a love-hate relationship with technology. How can we be so “connected” yet feel such a disconnect from the things and people who matter most?

It’s a question I ask myself daily.

With the school year winding down, families are busy making plans for summer vacation. As my daughter finishes kindergarten this week, I can’t help but recall my own summers as a kid. I collected pinecones and rocks, played basketball with my dad and the neighbors, rolled down grassy hills, ran through makeshift sprinklers and ate lunch outside on a blanket. I grew up on less than 2 acres of land but each day my feet took me through each bush, around every tree and back again. From knee to ankle, my legs were covered with bruises and small scrapes. No matter, they were my summer beauty bumps.

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Somewhere in between being an active child and having a child of my own, the hopping, skipping and jumping was replaced with clicking, swiping and scrolling. I remember thinking how cute it was that my daughter could unlock my phone and find the apps in a folder I created with her name on it. Lexi could successfully navigate her favorite games at 3-years-old. She must be a genius, right? Or just a girl with a screen habit.

But what do we expect? Kids have learned to see electronics as an extension of Mom or Dad (or society in general). Forget wristwatches, our latest go-to accessory attaches to our hands or dangles out of our pockets. Mindlessly, we check these devices, opening apps and scrolling feeds because that’s what our fingers and brains have grown accustomed to do during down time (or any time, really). Have we become afraid of silence … of sitting with ourselves or loved ones without feeling the need to be preoccupied with something else? Many days, we’ve taken multi-tasking to a level where it bears all control over us.
Recently, I read a book that explained mindfulness like this: “When you’re walking, walk. When you’re eating, eat. When you’re cooking, cook.” It really resonated with me. If we’re going to do something, let’s be present and enjoy each moment for what it is. I believe we cause our own anxiety by constantly feeling the need to do more, to be more. If we aren’t juggling, we must be falling behind, right? We’ve been lead to believe, if we aren’t clicking, swiping or scrolling we must be missing something monumental.

Well, not this summer. It’s time for a digital detox.

My goal this summer is to make nature and human interaction the center of our vacation fun. Those who dig hashtags and such could refer to is as: #OurScreenFreeSummer. Don’t get me wrong, my daughter and I already spend a lot of time away from the TV and computer, but this will be different. There will be no “hold on a second” while I respond to texts or click through various notifications. The trusty Maine Atlas & Gazetteer will be my method of navigating Vacationland unless I’m lost, in which case, we will stop and ask for directions. Ya know, connect with the folk who spend their days behind the counter of quaint country stores … just waiting to share a tale.

Although, in a way, it’s ironic to invite you to follow our adventures around this great state via the Internet, I hope you do. This journey is less about deleting technology and more about finding balance and focusing one task, one activity, one adventure.

When you’re browsing the Internet, browse the Internet. When you’re having a picnic, have a picnic.

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Erinne Magee

About Erinne Magee

Erinne is a Maine-based writer and freelance editor specializing in first person essays, poetry and picture books. Her work has appeared in publications like: The Washington Post, Redbook, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping and The Toronto Sun. For more, visit: www.erinnemagee.com