It’s Time to Connect in Real Life and Take a Day Away

Becky Banham
By Becky Banham,
updated on Jul 18, 2019

It’s Time to Connect in Real Life and Take a Day Away

Will you join the challenge to reduce your screen time?

I spend too much time on my phone. I spend more time than I’d care to admit on social media and I spend more money than I should (and that my partner would like me to) online. And, all thanks to Apple’s Screen Time tool, it’s something that I’ve become increasingly aware of over the last six months. It’s not big, it’s not clever and, actually, I really want to stop.

It would seem that I’m not alone with the increasing amount of time I spend online, though. In fact, it’s thought that people are online for an average of 24 hours a week - that’s twice as long as 10 years ago. On top of that, one in five adults is spending as much as 40 hours a week on the web.

This increase is partly due to the rise in use by those aged 16 to 24, who average 34.3 hours a week on the Internet. And, for the first time, women are spending more time online than men, fuelled by a rise in Internet use by those aged 18 to 34.

But why is this happening? What is driving us to spend more time online than ever before? Sure enough, Ofcom, which compiled a report about our digital dependancy, attributes a large part of the surge in time online to the rise of smartphones. These are now used by 78% of the population compared with just 17% in 2008 - the year after the first iPhone was launched.

Of course, it’s true that our phones have the ability to help us connect in so many ways; to our friends, family, to news, views, social events and work. Yes, our handheld devices can open up our world and give us access to information beyond our own imagination. However, phones can also limit our gaze from that of the world around us to the tiny screen in front of us.

The horribly ironic thing is, our obsession with our online connections can lead us to neglect our offline, real-life connections. Specifically, social media seems to be the biggest culprit in our increased screen time over the last decade. I don’t know about you, but Instagram is my Achilles heel. And, truth be told, I can’t remember the last day when I didn’t spend time on social media, let alone spent a day apart from my phone. Can you?

It’s an issue that a number of influencers are speaking up about, including mental health advocate Jo Love. Following a conversation with her counsellor which prompted a major realisation that she needed a break from social media, she started an Instagram campaign encouraging her followers to embrace “Switch Off Saturday” - making one day of the week scroll free.

Jo openly discusses her dedication to taking a day away from social media on her episode of I am. I have. She explains how she is still learning how to to harness social media and manage usage through being mindful and understanding where she is spending time online.

It’s something I’ve started to think about a lot recently, particularly since more people around me have started to do the same. I spoke to fellow Happiful writer Kat about her experience of taking time away from social media:

“I use social media a lot to promote my blog and coaching services and was beginning to feel like I was trapped in a hamster wheel - always creating content. I was also starting to compare myself to others, something I've never really struggled with in the past so I realised something had to change.

“I decided to make Saturdays my social media free day, giving myself a whole day to not scroll and to not 'create content'. Now I use Saturdays as a day to refill my creative cup with lots of reading, lots of distraction-free socialising and lots of journaling. It feels like coming up for air and, for me, one day off a week is the right amount of time to feel recharged.”

If like me, you want a piece of this screen-free bliss, it’s time to make a change.

Happiful and our sister site, Life Coach Directory, are on a mission to help more people connect in real life and to live in the moment through our #adayaway challenge.

Take part in the challenge

  • Think about what worries or stops you from taking a phone break. Is it work, family, friendship, FOMO? Write all of this down and think about ways in which you can pre-empt any issues.
  • Perhaps you could think about doing this on a non-work day and letting friends and family know you are going offline for the day in advance. You could encourage them to do the same. Maybe you will only respond to phone calls that day, checking your phone a couple of times for any missed calls only and leaving it in a drawer for the rest of the time?
  • Choose the day that you will commit to going phone free. You might also want to do this along with a family member, friend or partner, so you can benefit from a full day of connection together, without the distraction of a phone and social media.
  • Give it a go. Notice how you feel as the day goes along. Maybe jot this down (using pen and paper, not phone notes!) if you want to. Enjoy your day away.
  • Share your experiences of #adayaway when you are next back online and ready to do so. Nominate someone else to start the experience too by tagging them and Happiful in your post.
  • Commit to your next #adayaway the following week.

#adayaway challenge is a joint initiative of Happiful Magazine and Life Coach Directory. Make time to talk to others in person, to care for yourself and look up at the sky. One day a week could make a huge difference.

Let us know if you give it a try and share your experiences (when you switch back on) and encourage others to do the same.

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