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Vacation: Your Brain Off Computer

August 22, 2010

What started out as a vacation in a rural area has turned into an experiment of my brain OFF computer. No more TV, emails, twitters, blogs (this one won’t go online ‘til I return), even phone calls for me; and for my teenage (and older) kids no online games, no iPhone downloads, no texts (email’s too old-fashioned for them).  No one exactly planned this as an experiment, but when the highlight of the week is the weekly newspaper, which you devour, cover to cover and back again; you really have to work at being in the post-modern world.  Going online requires a trip to a nearby town with a load of dirty clothes (yep, the laundry has wi-fi), or more desirably, a trip to the local library, laptop in hand.

The results? After going through a day of withdrawal, and a frantic search for a TV with cable where we could get our fix of MadMen (couldn’t); our findings parallel a recent series of articles on this subject (Your Brain and Computing) in the New York Times. We spent more time talking, reading books, playing games, hiking, swimming.  When I asked my kids to comment on this, one said (essentially), “Duh—we’re on vacation.  Of course we do more together, but that’s not real life. You work, Dad works, you come home tired, we eat dinner & become coach potatoes, while we go to school or are busy.” Sadly, that’s true. This is vacation—a nostalgic glimpse of the way life should be.

But the seeds of revolution are at hand. Even in my clinical practice, spouses who used to complain about the crackberry at dinnertime are making vows to turn off their PDA’s.  Parents are telling kids that they’ll have computer-free evenings together; or will limit computer hours after dinner. My older son has vowed to end his W.O.W. account (that’s World of Warcraft for the uninitiated). And for me? I think my vacation experiment will become a new habit when I return home…my brain off computer…at least more of the time.  So whether you’re on vacation, or plugged in at home or the office as you read this;  your brain off computer is an experiment worth trying. Turn off, tune in, enjoy.

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