Screen Free Week: Your Guide to a Digital Detox

Screen Free Week Site Logo 2018
(Photo courtesy of

This year, National Screen Free Week takes place from April 30 to May 6, 2018. This is a chance to unplug, step outside and reconnect without a USB port. Whether you choose to unplug for 1 or more days, the intent behind Screen Free Week isn't to banish your mobile devices. Screens are a part of our everyday lives, from work to socializing to everyday research and questions to Siri and Alexa. The intent of Screen Free Week is to help us become more aware and intentional of our use of screens in and out of our homes in ways that leave us more present in our surroundings.

To help get yourself in the mindset of going screen free, ask yourself "Why" every time you pull out your phone or tablet. Why am I using this? Why am I looking this up? Transparency helps too. Sometimes we just don't notice how often we are on our phones. Sometimes those around us don't understand why our attention is elsewhere. Telling those around you (family and friends, not complete strangers) what you are doing on your phone helps them understand where your attention is and why. To small children, everything on the device looks like a game. Explaining to them that you are sending a text to grandpa about plans for Saturday is more direct and explains the functions of technology as opposed to rushing through a text with a child tugging at your sleeve for attention.

No matter where you want to start, there are lots of different ways to participate in Screen Free Week.

The Digital Detox

Start small. If unplugging for 7 full days is too big of a leap, try simplifying the technology you do use regularly.

  • Uninstall unused or unwanted apps from your mobile devices.
  • Cull your social media feeds. Subscribe only to the feeds and accounts that bring you joy.
  • Turn off notifications on your phone or tablet
  • Unsubscribe from mailing lists. In your email search bar, type "Unsubscribe". From there, you can go through your inbox and unsubscribe from companies you no longer follow or make purchases from.
  • Delete unwanted or unused files from your computer.
  • Organize your computer files by creating folders to better track and organize your documents for easier searches for those last minute requests.

At the end of the week you can set up a family contract for digital use to get every family member on board with a new set of guidelines for screen-use./p>

Screen Free Zones

Designate specific times or places where no screens are in use. Try one or more of these options.

  • Mealtimes
  • Red lights (whether you are walking or driving)
  • 1 hour before bedtime
  • Charge your phone away from your bed. Replace with a book, journal or glass of water
  • In the car (unless you use your phone for navigation only)
  • Any other zone that you feel are better used without screens

Simple Swaps

More ways to unplug throughout your day. Try one or more of these options at home

  • Instead of TV
    • Read a book
    • Write in a journal
    • Draw a picture
    • Call a friend or family member
    • Tidy an area of the house
    • Stare out the window, etc.
  • Instead of Video Games
    • Try board games
    • Card games
    • Outdoor games like Tag or Hide & Seek. Who says these games are just for kids?
    • Try your hand at container gardening. Soil, seeds, water and sunlight is all you need to start.

Outside the Home

Where the streets have no outlets

  • A walk around the block - Take your 15 minute break from work and go for a quick walk or just sit outside without your phone. How does it feel? When I first tried this, I constantly felt like something was missing. Over time, I started noticing curiosities around the neighborhood that I skipped before. Murals on the sides of building, colorful blooms of flowers growing alongside the street.
  • Parks and trails Bring out your phone only for photographs of quirky trees or of your child in action on the monkey bars. Did you know that San José has over 53 miles of trails and over 200 community parks that you can explore for free?
  • The grocery store Write out a shopping list on paper. Let your child see you write with a pen or pencil so that they are more familiar with this task. Ask the butcher for a recipe instead of searching on a website.
  • The library Visit the library for magazines, cookbooks, craft books, audiobooks and more to help you pass away your time unplugged.

Discover and Go

Use our Discover and Go link to find free or discounted tickets to local museums. A great way to spend the day in San José!

More places to visit in San José

More information and links about Screen Free Week

Follow any of the provided links to learn more about Screen Free Week and its multiple resources to keep the momentum going after May 6.

No matter what or how you unplug this week, take a moment to reflect on what you are giving up and what you are gaining instead. What new things have you done without your phone that you may not have tried before? What new things have you noticed around you that you may not have seen before? Is there anything from this week that you want to continue doing after Screen Free Week ends?

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