Reboot’s National Day of Unplugging, an annual call for a 24-hour tech break, was launched as the smartphone was just emerging into popular use. Now celebrating its 10th year on March 1-2, the National Day of Unplugging has been a leading voice for the unplugging movement and is needed more than ever.
“Unplugging from your phone and computer for 24 hours isn’t easy,” said National Day of Unplugging co-creator Dan Rollman, a tech entrepreneur. “That kind of break is uncommon for us in today’s hyper-connected world. If you can do it though, it’s a wonderful way to recharge your spiritual batteries and be present with the world around you. It provides a healthy reminder of the benefits that come from taking an occasional respite from our devices.”
The launch of the National Day of Unplugging in 2010, was followed by the advent of digital detox retreats and a growing call from former tech executives for accountability by the companies they say have intentionally created a society of tech addiction. The annual celebration reaches hundreds of thousands of people every year, with the world’s most established brands, celebrities and media companies sharing the message and participating.
Our phones are now with us everywhere – at dinner, in bed and in the bathroom. They are the third wheel and the third parent. The average smartphone user taps, swipes or clicks their phone 2,617 times a day, according to a study by Dscout, and the National Day of Unplugging offers an urgently needed escape from the relentless deluge of information emanating from the now ubiquitous and ever-present screens that dominate our daily lives.
In 2011, just 35 percent of people owned a smartphone. Now about 77 percent do. And they use them constantly, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center study. The top 10 percent of users tap, swipe or click their phones 5,427 times a day. Dscout found, and most start doing that right when they wake up. Almost 70 percent of adults sleep with their phones by the bed. About 85 percent of smartphone users check their phones while talking with friends or family.
For one day, from sundown Friday, March 1, through sundown Saturday, March 2, the nonprofit Reboot is asking people to embrace the National Day of Unplugging to unplug for 24 hours and look up to remember what life was like before our digital devices went with us everywhere.
The National Day of Unplugging recognizes the value and importance of technology in today’s world with the goal of encouraging people, especially digital natives who have grown up with ever-present technology, to be more mindful of their digital use. The day is not intended to be a one-off, but rather a starting point to encourage people of all ages to embrace a healthy lifestyle by regularly setting aside unplugged time.
A growing number of the tech leaders who designed the device’s compulsive features have stepped forward in recent years to speak out against digital manipulation. Leaders like tech entrepreneur Roger McNamee and Tristan Harris, a former Google ethicist and founder of the Center for Humane Technology, are challenging the direction of technologies that are now overtaking our society. They are sounding the alarm on the data that is being collected from people and warning that the technology is having a negative psychological effect, especially on teenagers, and that many teens are suffering from digital addiction, cyberbullying and even slower brain development.
People can participate in the National Day of Unplugging on their own or through partnerships that include The Second City in Chicago, collaborations with the Digital Wellness Collective and Let It Ripple, hundreds of schools around the country, and many more. On it’s website, at www.NationalDayofUnplugging.
With participation worldwide in 125 countries (including far-flung places such as the Bhutan, the Isle of Man, Mongolia, Andorra, and Kazakhstan), the NDU has resonated around the world with people of all backgrounds, from Catholic to Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim. The message has been embraced by a range of celebrities including Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Jill Soloway, and Tiffany Shlain.
About the National Day of Unplugging
The National Day of Unplugging has roots in the Jewish tradition of the Sabbath. This modern day of rest was developed in 2010 for people of all backgrounds as a way to bring balance to the increasingly fast-paced way of life and reclaim time to connect with family, friends and our communities.