You, Unplugged, for Just 100 Hours This Summer

16 May You, Unplugged, for Just 100 Hours This Summer

This summer, plan to spend at least 100 hours unplugged and bring balance back to your life. You just might find that the digitally unencumbered you is the “you” you were meant to be.

If it’s starting to feel as if your cell phone is an extension of your palm or your iPad is an adjunct of your arm, you’re a prime candidate for this summer’s “100 Hours Unplugged,” a challenge from O.A.R.S., an Adventure Collection member company. And, according to some recent research, it’s exactly what we need, right now.

Like the vast majority of Americans, you probably use a computer, handheld digital device of some kind and/or TV as a normal part of every day; in fact, on average, you spend about 10 hours and 39 minutes with them. Worldwide, 84 percent of cell phone users claim they could not go a single day without their devices.

But is that healthy for your body, mind and spirit? While there’s certainly a lot to be said for having the convenience of instant communication and access to information at your fingertips, what do you give up in exchange? And, how can you bring some balance back to your life?

The addiction of constant connection

On average, we spend more than 10 hours a day with our computers and digital devices.

In January 2017, the Pew Research Center published a fact sheet stating that 95 percent of Americans now own a cell phone of some kind, with 77 percent owning a smartphone. An earlier Pew Research survey found that:

• 67 percent of cell phone owners check them for alerts, messages or calls, even when they don’t notice their devices ringing or vibrating.

• Almost half of cell phone owners have slept with their phones next to their beds because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls.

• Some mobile device owners check them every 6.5 minutes.

The short video below, produced by charstarlene, puts some of these statistics on glaring display:

The delusion of devices

Multiple other studies suggest that being glued to our digital devices can create or exacerbate health and quality-of-life problems. For example, they: 

1. Impede your performance on mental tasks. A research project published by the American Psychological Association in 2014 demonstrated that the mere presence of a cell phone may be sufficiently distracting to produce diminished attention and deficits while performing tasks, especially for jobs that demand greater attention and cognition.

2. Lower your rate of recall. The “Google Effect” is real: a study published online by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in July 2014 demonstrated that because of Google, we have less recall of information itself but enhanced recollection of where to find it. According to the study’s authors, “the Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves.”

3. Interfere with your sleep. An October 2012 study, published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, found that young people who are heavy technology users have a higher risk of sleep disturbances and mental health issues.

We may be more “social” with social media, but we aren’t connecting as deeply with each other as when talking face-to-face.

A full 90 percent of Americans use some type of electronics at least a few nights per week within one hour before bedtime. In a report published in January 2015, study participants who read light-emitting e-books took longer to fall asleep and had reduced evening sleepiness, reduced melatonin secretion, later timing of their circadian clocks and reduced next-morning alertness than when reading printed books.

4. Hurt your interpersonal communications. While people are becoming more social and more interactive with others due to social media, we don’t feel as personally connected to those at the other end of our communications as we do when we’re face-to-face. We’re communicating more but building strong relationships less.

5. Degrade your quality of life. In a study from the University of Maryland, researchers discovered that when students unplugged from technology, they reported an improved quality of life. They spent more time with their loved ones, exercised more and became more appreciative and aware of their surroundings.

The awesomeness of unplugging

While technology makes communication fast and convenient, if you spend too much time with it, you’ll fail to notice your surroundings or form bonds with other people.

To participate in the O.A.R.S. 100 Hours Unplugged challenge, all you have to do is turn off your devices and turn on to nature and your family and friends for at least 100 hours this summer. Configure your 100 hours any way you like: just four days, one long weekend, two separate weekends or every Saturday in June, July or August.

So, plan a rafting or camping trip, a “forest bath,” a national park visit or a few days of hiking in nearby natural spots. Then, once your unplugged plan is in place, watch and listen to this “video poem” by Gary Turk, below.

You just may realize how much you’ve been missing—and have been missed.

Here’s to your [unplugged!] adventures, in whatever corner of the world you find them,


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Candice Gaukel Andrews
A multiple award-winning and five-time book author and writer specializing in environmental issues and nature-exploration topics, Candice Gaukel Andrews has traveled around the world—from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica and from Greenland’s coasts to Patagonia’s steppes—searching for and telling the stories that express the essence of a place. To read her articles and see samples of her nature photography, visit her website at and like her Nature Traveler Facebook page at
Candice Gaukel Andrews

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