Game Puts Cell Phone Etiquette to Test

We  have long been proponents of putting away the cell phone at mealtimes. So naturally, we’re delighted with a new game making the rounds that challenges diners to put their cell phones away during restaurant meals . . . or else risk picking up the tab for everyone’s dinner.

According to “The Atlantic Monthly,” the game was developed by a group of friends in San Francisco who were looking for a way to enjoy conversations at dinner without the distraction of others talking and texting on their cell phones.

The rules are as follows:

  • The game starts after everyone orders
  • All parties must place their phone on the table face down
  • The first person to flip over their phone loses the game
  • The loser picks up the dinner tab
  • If no one loses, all participants pay for their share of the meal

There are, of course, opportunities for variations on this theme. For meals at home, the loser might be tasked with cleanup duty or have to forfeit the use of his or her cell phone for a set period of time.

Has cell phone usage cut into your mealtimes? Why not make a game of unplugging and reconnecting – it’s a fun way to break a not-so-fun habit!

Unplug and Reconnect Endorses ‘Screen-Free Week’

We at Unplug and Reconnect are proud to endorse “Screen-Free Week,” a weeklong unplugging event sponsored by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) during the week of April 30 to May 6, 2012.

According to the CCFC, “Screen-Free Week is an annual celebration where children, families, schools and communities turn off screens and turn on life. Instead of relying on screens for entertainment, participants read, daydream, explore, enjoy nature and enjoy spending time with family and friends.”

The statistics tell the story of why an event like “Screen-Free Week” is necessary. Children as young as preschool-age spend an average of 32 hours a week viewing a television or computer screen for entertainment – and older children even more time than that, according to the CCFC. This screen time has been linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity and attention problems, and also exposes children to harmful marketing.

“Regardless of whether they are consuming ‘good’ or ‘bad’ programming, it’s clear that screen media dominates the lives of far too many children, displacing all sorts of other activities that are integral to childhood,” the CCFC points out.

We hope our readers will consider joining the thousands of parents, teachers, healthcare professionals, and religious and civic leaders who are supporting “Screen-Free Week” with a wide range of unplugged activities. For more information about this valuable initiative, check out the campaign’s website.

The Price of Peace and Quiet

In this era of 24-7 technology, the increasingly rare luxury of peace and quiet ought to be added to the list of the world’s most precious commodities, right up there with fresh air, clean water, copper, gold and diamonds.

Just ask vacation-goers who can afford to buy a slice of quiet. They’re shelling out cool thousands in order to travel to so-called “black-hole” destinations – places where technology can’t creep in.

So says Travel & Leisure, which predicts: “The greatest luxury of the 21st century will be dropping off the grid. Black-hole resorts will be notable for the total absence of the Internet – even their walls will be impervious to wireless signals.”

The ultimate getaway, these pricey resorts can be found “on mountaintops, in quaint villages, or in sleek urban centers,” according to the travel magazine.

For those willing to splurge less, “glamping” – is becoming another chic way to get away from it all.

What’s glamping? It’s a phrase coined by Mary Jane Butters, owner of Mary Jane’s Farm, which was recently named one of the top five destinations in America to unplug. Visitors to Mary Jane’s Farm can nix the noise of technology through an outdoor vacation experience that combines camping and glamour.

“Unplugging is the new ‘decompressing,’” Butters said in an interview with Enhanced Online News. “And, due to the economy, Americans are turning to camping as an affordable vacation option.”

Of course, for those of us who can’t afford to get away right now, there’s always the option of turning off the cell phone, shutting down the computer, tuning out the television. We call it unplugging.

Exercising Willpower to Unplug from Technology

“Willpower,” a new book by psychologist Roy F. Baumeister and “New York Times” science writer John Tierney, provides some great tips for exercising self-control. It’s a great skill to have for those of us who have resolved to be less tied to technology in the new year.

The authors of “Willpower” liken willpower to a muscle that can be both strengthened or weakened. In Baumeister’s experiments, students asked to engage in tasks requiring tremendous impulse control later suffered from serious willpower lapses when asked to perform subsequent tasks also requiring willpower – something Baumeister calls “ego depletion.”

But the psychologist also found out that like a muscle, willpower can be strengthened over time by undertaking small tasks requiring self-control. For example, Baumester asked students to exercise regularly, use a mouse with their weaker hand, or speak in complete sentences without swearing. He found that students who accomplished these tasks successfully were more resistant to ego depletion and showed greater self-control in other areas of their lives. Not surprisingly, say the authors, people who exercise willpower frequently – such as observant religious people – often have better self-control than those who don’t.

We at Unplug and Reconnect were inspired by “Willpower” to think about how Baumeister’s and Tierney’s strategies could be put to practical use for those who want to take an occasional break from technology. So, with a nod to the authors, we offer these ideas:

  • Start small. If your goal is to drastically cut down the time you spend glued to technology, don’t try to go cold turkey – start with baby steps.
  • Practice. Build your willpower muscle by designating a tech-free hour everyday. Work your way up as you build your self-control muscle.
  •  Out of sight means out of mind. Put your cell phone in another room during meals, at bedtime, or at any other time you want to avoid using it.
  • Make it less convenient. If you want to spend less time on the computer, shut it down completely so it’s less easy to log on.

 

Cruise Line: Use ‘Shellphone’ Instead

We just love the new unplugged advertising campaign launched recently by Royal Carribean, the cruise line that takes travelers to sunny destinations throughout the Carribean.

In the advertisement, a young woman holds a conch shell to her ear. The shell presumably whispers of the sea and makes us want to get away from it all.

Viewers of the ad are encouraged to put down their cell phones and tune into “shellphones.”

A tagline reads: “The Sea is Calling. Answer it Royally.” Other ads referring to the “shellphone” inform readers that: “You don’t recharge it. It recharges you.”

Of course one doesn’t need a luxury cruise to get away from the hectic pace of life symbolized by our cell phones.

The next time you need to get away from it all, simply click the “off” button on your cell phone. You might even consider a cruise to someplace sunny – even if it’s only in your imagination.