Disconnect to Reconnect

Camp Grounded took place on June 14th-17th at Camp Navarro in Northern California. I only read about this ‘digital detox’ camp recently, it’s basically a technology-free retreat where “adults go to unplug, getaway and be kids again”. There is no work talk allowed and nicknames are encouraged in order for people to make real life connections without a 140 character limit. I have to say that it’s an awesome idea! Having worked at a Summer Camp in America, I have seen first hand how much fun the children have and how rewarding it is to be a counselor. Many of the Camp Grounded activities are the very same activities that I did with my group of 10 year olds!

It got me thinking about how much technology and the ‘digital age’ really must effect us. After reading about Camp Grounded, I did a bit of research and found some interesting stats – I was amazed to find that 91% of American citizens have their mobile device(s) within reach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (SMS Marketing). I’m sure that the UK percentage is very close, if not the same – 90% of the time, I definitely have my iPhone either in my pocket, beside me or infront of my face. Digital and mobile technology is so much a part of our lives, that it’s actually so easy for these seemingly crazy stats to happen without us noticing! Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. Our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information. We are also in the midst of a mobile revolution – Out of the 6.8 billion people on the planet, 5.1 billion of them own a mobile phone and only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush (Mobile Marketing Association). More people are accessing online content through their mobile, and more frequently. Is the mobile boom exacerbating the effects of constant information?

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Even though I’ve always loved social/digital media, with my recent new position at Coup, commitment to my digital devices has probably (definitely) gotten worse… I like to be up to date with the latest social/digital trends, and now it’s even more of a necessity. A few weeks ago I found an infographic “10 Types of Social Media Addict” – I wrote about how I have moved up a couple of notches on the scale. I don’t particularly view the frequent use of social media as an addiction, more of a ‘habit’ that we all have to some degree. But how badly does the constant stream of emails, social media and digital information effect usoutside of the digital world? Is something as seemingly drastic as a 5 day technology free camp what it takes to shut ourselves off from it all?

“There aren’t really any times that you’re ever completely off. So when you go like that for six, seven, eight, nine months without ever turning off, never having your cellphone more than a few feet out of reach, never being more than a couple of hours away from your computer — I think that what happens is you develop almost a nervous tic, feeling that you’ve missed something or that you need to check in and make sure everything’s okay.”

- Erin Robbins O’Brien, AKA “Red the Riot Act” -

 If, 1 or 2 years ago, I was given the opportunity to attend Camp Grounded I would definitely have said “hell yeah!” – not because I was constantly plugged in to some form of tech, but because it sounds like a lot of fun (who wouldn’t want to try out Bare-feet Baking!). If you were to ask me now, I would still be well up for it, but more because I would genuinely like to detox from my digital life for a few days, and see what it is like afterwards.

Finding about Camp Grounded and reading people’s stories has certainly opened my eyes to just how much of an effect technology has. I will certainly be making a very conscious effort to distance myself from my phone/laptop/iPad outside of work, and not just when i’m sleeping! Maybe I will write an update in a couple of weeks and see how it’s going…

What do you think of the effects of the ‘digital age’? Would you like to attend a digital detox camp? I have tried to find a similar detox weekend/camp in the UK and haven’t managed to find anything, if you know of anything like this I’d really appreciate you letting me know!

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