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National Day of Unplugging *Take Two

Image Source: Jonathan Nash

This time last year, we wrote to tell you all about the National Day of Unplugging, fully armed with important stats about the negative effects of too much technology.

And we really did mean it.

But, having created the perfect post for each of our lovely brands - ‘if you’re reading this, you’re doing it wrong’ #stillfunny - we went back to work, straight back into the loving arms of our phones and laptops. And probably, you did, too.

That’s OK, though; science says we’re not alone:

A global study challenged 1,000 students around the world to go a day without any media (no phones, internet, TV, radio or computers). Most of the students failed, and many felt anxious, directionless, and disconnected without their technology.

That was in 2010, and our tech dependence has only increased since then: consumer surveys found millennials are willing to go without family, friends, pets and sex for a week - all before giving up their phones.

The smartphone is our generation’s Swiss Army Knife and security blanket combined. It gives us constant access to entertainment, information, connection and security - it’s not surprising that we do better on cognitive challenges if we know our phone is nearby, and start to feel separation anxiety when we don’t.

So maybe it’s time to stop trying to do without?

The National Day of Unplugging starts at sundown today, encouraging people to spend a full 24 hours free from technology. I’m not even going to pretend I’ll complete it this year. It’s still a really lovely idea, and absolutely it’s important that you set aside time to focus on yourself, your family and friends. But for me right now, it’s just not achievable.

That’s not to say we couldn’t all benefit from cutting back a little. The wonderful people that we are, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to keep your addiction to tech in check (I’m a poet and I totally know it):

Protect Yo’ Self

So it turns out, all this blue light we’re staring at could actually be affecting you.

According to beauty experts, the light from phone and computer screens could be just as ageing to your skin as sun damage. To protect yourself from ‘screen face’, just add a broad spectrum SPF into your morning skincare routine.

If you’re worried about eye-strain and sleep affects, most opticians today will give you the option of blue-light filters on your glasses lenses, and you can buy anti-glare filters for your computer screens too. We also try to take a 5-10 minute break for every hour spent in front of a screen (coffee, anyone?).

Set Some Boundaries

After years of losing bedtime negotiations with Netflix, I am proud to say that as of the 1st of January, my laptop has been sleeping on the sofa. Completely banned from my bedroom. It’s the one New Year’s Resolution I’ve managed all the way 'til March, and my sleep schedule is so much better for it.

My phone still follows me everywhere, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but removing excess temptation means I’m much less likely to work late, or get sucked into an all-night Netflix marathon.

Go Dark

You can set bedtime light levels on your phone, dimming your screen light to reduce sleep interference. Recently, I’ve been going a step further, and have taken advantage of an accessibility option that sets my phone display to black and white.

With a monochrome phone, you can still do anything you need to, and your access is the same, but notifications don't create the same level of emotional response when the screen's grey. Plus, the lack of pretty colours is a great way to get you out of any mindless social media scrolling habits. If you don’t believe me, just try scrolling through a black and white Instagram feed: reeeally arty for the first ten seconds, and then you quickly lose interest.

Of course, social media itself is a whole other issue, but lucky for you, we’ve got it covered.

In case you're wondering how:

iPhones can be hacked through Settings > General > Accessibility > Vision > Grayscale ON

For the Android users out there: Developer Options > Hardware Accelerated Rendering > Simulate Colour Space > Monochromacy

You’re welcome, a black and white phone screen.

It has no effect on the rest of the phone – screenshots and photos will come out in colour, but the hack stops you from seeing it. And, as an added bonus, enabling grayscale on some phones actually reduces power consumption, so my phone can stay by my side even longer. Am I doing this unplugging thing right?

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