Is a digital detox good for your family?

Internet Matters’ experts share their thoughts on digital detoxes. Is it necessary to do one? And if you do, what’s the best way to go about it?

Digital Detox

Karl Hopwood

Independent online safety expert
Expert Website

Many of us worry about the amount of time we are spending online, and those of us with children worry about their screen time too. The best thing that we can do as parents is to provide our children with other things that they can be doing.

Some screen time is fine and to be expected – we should be concerned when what our children are doing online starts to have an impact on other aspects of their life such as sleep, friendships, diet and other health-related issues.

The alleged benefits of a digital detox have been extolled by the media in recent years and they can offer a welcome break from our devices. If we decide to do one, we need to be clear why we are doing it, and, in the same way that the “no phones at the dinner table rule” should apply to the whole family, not just our children, so should any day of abstinence from tech. A discussion should take place beforehand in case there are any online-related activities that need to be rearranged or cancelled in advance.

A key message from the experts is that we shouldn’t worry too much about screen time but rather spend some time thinking about screen use and the quality of the interactions that we are all having online – this will be an easier conversation but one that we should all be part of!

Julia von Weiler

Psychologist & Executive Director
Expert Website

Digital detox is a great idea! It allows us to return to our offline existence – the here and now. No thinking of our reach or number of followers.

We often shy away from the concept because we immediately think of something like 4 whole weeks without any digital devices. But there are gradations. For example, taking a “screen break” (from all digital communication devices) from 8PM until the next morning at 8AM is just as valid as a full digital-free day during the week or a whole weekend without going online. It’s a bit like interval fasting. It’s a way of practising, detaching and then maybe giving up digital devices for a whole week or two. I hear reading books is still fun!

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