UNPLUGGED. It’s A Thing.
Unplugged weddings, unplugged weekends, unplugged dinners.
Being surgically attached to your phone at all times has become so normal that we have a name for the times you put it down. Unplugged.
Unplugging is unthinkable for many of us. For the Young People, they are unclear on the purpose of their fingers without anything to swipe.
But Unplugging is particularly difficult for parents.
We are BUSY. Our phones tether us to all the things that need to be done. At any particular moment that ping you can hear could be a text from the kids’ school telling us Bonnie has nits, a reminder to pick up a present for Nan’s birthday, a very important work meeting or, you know, that Google Alert we put on Chris Pratt. All VERY IMPORTANT stuff.
Our phones have changed everything. When we are with our kids we are either using them to capture every little thing they’re doing, or we’re scrolling through Instagram to distract us from every little thing they’re doing.
Sometimes, we’re using them to distract the kids themselves from the things they’re doing.
Two weeks ago I took my son for an allergy test. He had to have 30+ fine needles very quickly pricked into his tiny little back. Without even thinking about it, I pulled out my phone and handed it to my three-year-old to make him happy while that happened.
“What did we do before iPhones?” I asked the nurse, brightly, but, let’s face it, rhetorically.
I found out, when Andrew Daddo and I spoke with Dani Rourke who lives at the tech-free Pinetrees Lodge on Lord Howe:
“We talked to people,” he snapped back instantly. “And children used to play outside.”
OUCH. It’s called Small Talk, buddy.
But anyway, maybe the rude nurse had a point, because last week, I unplugged the entire family for a week.
We went to a tiny little spot in the ocean off the coast of northern NSW called Lord Howe Island.
It has no mobile phone reception. It has very limited WIFI, and in most of the places you stay, it has no TVs.
The horror and panic of dreaming up ways to entertain my children with none of the usual digital props would give me pause about going there, if only it weren’t so extraordinarily beautiful.