Unplug, power down, relax and socialize in an analog world.
That is the goal of the National Day of Unplugging scheduled for a 24-hour period scheduled to begin on sundown Friday.
Eric Bourgault, a North Island College student and founder of Digitox.ca, a website which offers services related to cyber addiction and helping people free themselves from excess screen time.
He notes the issue with digital addiction is that it is socially acceptable and expected; the boundaries of using phones for work and personal use have become blurred.
“You need to be able to establish your boundaries – if you can’t, then it becomes an issue and quickly you can become addicted.”
Bourgault notes more than 112,000 people have been engaged directly in 1,000 unplugging events in the past five years, and the National Day of Unplugging has taken place in more than 200 countries. In conjunction with this year’s event, he is hosting a pilot project hands-free day at NIC March 9 in the Tyee Hall at the Comox Valley campus.
The idea, he says, is to host an inclusive event that shows the value of taking some time off from electronic devices.
“In 2008, I went through a personal technological breakdown – it was the same year the first iPhone came out. I became exposed to that addiction … I came to the conclusion I had to create my own set of tools.”
The purpose of the event is not to strip people of their phones, he says, but rather to “trigger people in a positive way.
“It’s a way to interact with others, and have a place to make people aware. Even if you participate for a minute, an hour or a day, if you struggle for a period of time or have a craving, it might make you see that there’s a problem.”
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., students and teachers who are interested in participating will be asked to put their phone in a small bag and either turn their phone off or put it on vibrate. There will be a variety of activities, such as a photo booth, board games, an acoustic jam, a laughter yoga session and poetry.
For more information, visit digitox.ca.