Commissioner’s Blog #16

“The Miracle of the Unplugged Weekend”

April 2, 2014

John Hovanesian, M .D.

Ever tried going unplugged for an entire weekend?  Turning off your computers, leaving your smart phone in your pocket, and letting the television go dark?  My family first tried this for the first time about two years ago, encouraged a news story about a national holiday proposed by Reboot, a non-profit Jewish organization whose great ideas reach across religious boundaries.

Miraculous things happen during an unplugged weekend, when we are not distracted by the influence of connected electronics.  On one such weekend, my wife and I took our kids to a nearby park.  Rather than checking our email while the kids played, we took in the beauty around us that somehow disappeared into the background on previous trips.  The whole clan talked in the car rather than playing music or the mind-numbing DVD player.  We turned our kids’ “screen time” (something we limit to one hour per day for all screens combined) to game time playing board games and charades.

Our first unplugged weekend was a miracle of family togetherness, creating memories all of us will cherish.

Sure, we had to use the phone occasionally, or text message, or even use email, but exclusively to make social connections to others for weekend plans.  We resisted the temptation to get into other email or electronic distractions.

My family now does regular unplugged weekends, and each one is like a mini-vacation, taking us away from our stresses and letting us focus on what’s important.  It turns out that many of the emails we might answer over the weekend somehow become irrelevant by Monday morning.

How much more inspiring that Scout camping experiences are all about being unplugged—getting kids to discover their abilities in the natural world, protected by an organization that teaches good values along the way.

How special indeed it was to uncouple ourselves from the hamster wheel of technology to enjoy really what’s most important in life?  Try an unplugged weekend yourself sometime, and see if you don’t want to repeat the experience week after week.