The Art of Shutting Down

July 25, 2017

As kids continue to enjoy their last month of summer, their use of social media, video games, and Internet activity may reach its peak. Although this additional screen time is a chance for teens to blow off steam and distract themselves from the fast-approaching school year, it may be in their best interest to experience an “electronic cleanse” before heading back to the classroom.

When I was in high school, I began to challenge myself to a period of time completely devoid of electronics. For at least one week every summer, I stopped using my phone, gaming system, television, computer, and any other technology with a screen. To many, this sounds like a complete and utter nightmare. Yet every time I began this technological cleanse, I found serenity and happiness in a period free of electronics. For those who participate in this digital detox, you may find that you spend more time engaging in physical activity outside, reading, and experiencing face-to-face encounters with friends. This yearly routine often led to a surge of creativity and allowed me to produce different ideas and projects in an introspective environment. If you are interested in this challenge, I have some advice to offer you:

  • Let your friends and family know ahead of time that you will not be available to contact through electronic means.
  • To avoid temptation, power off your electronics.
  • If you wish to meet up with people during your time without electronics, discuss the meeting location and time details beforehand.
  • If you have a job that requires you to use electronics, set limits for “work-only” uses that are separate from personal accounts and social media.

The addictive nature of phones and social media is a universal phenomenon. Sometimes this obsession with electronics hurts one’s ability to enjoy the people and places around them when their virtual world takes precedence. Time away from screens may help you live in the moment and will prevent you from reaching forward to capture every detail of your day on Snapchat or Facebook.

Withdrawing from electronics also shows how much other people rely on technology to entertain themselves. When I wasn’t paying attention to my phone in a public space, I would find eyes glued to screens with the realization that nearly everyone was preoccupied with their cellular device.

A technological cleanse could be beneficial in more ways than one. Regulating your digital habits can enable you to experience more day-to-day productivity and genuine interactions. This opportunity to abandon screens would help children and parents from all generations.

Photo courtesy of

Written by

Zoe McLeod

Zoe McLeod is a sophomore at Duke University in Durham, NC. She has an interest in health care policy and is majoring in public policy with a minor in neuroscience. Currently, she is an intern at FOSI and loves to explore D.C.