With classrooms and boardrooms transitioned to virtual and remote, we all have one thing in common during the COVID-19 crisis: our screen time has increased significantly. According to Nielsen, the requirement to stay at home can lead to a nearly 60 percent increase in digital media consumption habits. The increase is staggering when you take into consideration that before COVID-19 Americans were already spending almost 12 hours each day using digital media. Now, 75 percent of consumers are broadening their regular media options with streaming services and TV-connected tech.

How are you and your students spending time during COVID-19? If it feels natural to let everyone become engrossed in their computer, smartphone, TV, or tablet, consider these seven disconnected activities that will help you reconnect your family to one another. And please share these ideas with your students’ parents or guardians!

Seven Ways to Disconnect from Technology

  1. Challenge Your Mind with a Jigsaw Puzzle. Watching TV may be entertaining, but it doesn’t necessarily challenge your mind. Put your focus and problem-solving skills to the test with a jigsaw puzzle that you or the whole family can build together. Completing jigsaw puzzles is an absorbing task and a good distraction. The mindfulness quality of puzzles is also good for relaxation.
  2. Bring Back Family Game Night. Play a board game as a family, with your partner, or your roommate. From Jenga to Monopoly, you’ll immediately remember why game night was something you looked forward to when you were a child. Games like Scrabble and Pictionary can also offer kids who are now learning from home an educational challenge.
  3. Take a Walk. Health officials advise that you can safely walk your dog or yourself during the COVID-19 quarantine as long as you maintain social distancing requirements of keeping six feet of space between you and anyone who does not live in your household. Daily walks expose you to fresh air, help you to burn calories, boost your heart rate, and release feel-good endorphins that we all need during a global crisis.
  4. Write in Your Journal. If your New Year’s resolution was to be more mindful in 2020, now is a great time to spend a few minutes every day reflecting on what gives you stress and expressing appreciation for everything for which you are grateful. Put it all down in writing (ehem—on paper) and keep the habit going even when social distancing mandates end.
  5. Challenge Yourself to Read a Classic Tome. How impressed will your students be when you tell them that you spent the quarantine reading every day? Proudly share that you finished War and Peace, or the complete works of Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, William Shakespeare, or all eight original Harry Potter novels (again).
  6. Write Letters (not Text Messages) to Your Family, Friends, or Students. Formal letter writing is slowly on its way to becoming a lost art. Pen a missive to your aunt who lives across the country without a computer, or your cousin across town who is addicted to her iPhone. The goal is to surprise and delight someone you love with handwritten and heartfelt greetings.
  7. Do Something Artsy. Even if it’s just doodling or sketching, bringing out your inner artist can help you feel accomplished and connected to your inner creativity.

As we head into the third month of quarantine, you may be starting to feel as if your isolation is ceaseless. Consider, however, that when we beat COVID-19 (and we will), and you resume your routine of running from school, to your kids’ athletic events, to your book club, that you may remember fondly the few months in which you were able to spend dedicated, disconnected time with your family building puzzles and playing board games. Take advantage of your time together now, and stay home and stay safe.

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