Digital Detox Challenge :: A Delightful Day Ditching the Screens


“Are you burnt out from doom scrolling on your phone, re-watching old sitcoms, and trying to maintain your sanity during the pandemic?”

“Why, yes. Yes, I am,” I thought to myself after stumbling across’s 24-Hour Digital Detox Challenge.

While the challenge has since passed, the need to take a break from my phone and other devices has not. Along with the aforementioned concerns, I also worry about how my and my husband’s screen time affects our children … whether it be not actively spending time with them enough, or their mirroring our behavior and losing interest in things like books and playing outside. Taking inspiration from the Digital Detox Challenge, I decided to create one for my family to help us [me] reset.

Creating A Personal Digital Detox Challenge 

The 24-Hour Digital Detox Challenge was 24 hours of no screens, which included: cell phones, television, gaming consoles/gaming devices, computers/laptops, smartwatches/wearable tech, no smart home devices (smart speakers, smart vacuums, etc).

While I’m always down for a challenge, I had to keep in mind the willing (and unwilling) participants in my household. After a lengthy discussion and some heavy convincing, my husband and I agreed to do an eight-hour challenge with the same device parameters. We chose a weekday where we both were off from work. Our preschooler is out of school for the summer, so no concerns there.

Building A Digital Detox Challenge Tech-Less Survival Kit

Considering that this would be a free day to spend time as a family with or without the Digital Detox Challenge, I created our tech-less survival kit to serve more as a family day itinerary, rather than our typical day with alternatives to our digital devices. My copy of the latest issue of Richland Library’s Access magazine served as inspiration for screen-free activities we could do with the littles ones. 

I did inventory and made sure we had bubbles and arts and craft supplies on hand, should one or both of the kids go reaching for the television remote. My book tote was stocked with library books, including one I was long overdue to pick back up and finish reading

Family Day Without Screens

Except for turning off my alarm, I surprisingly didn’t use my phone at all while I did some last-minute prepping before the Digital Detox Challenge officially started.

By the time the little ones woke up, the challenge was in full effect. We had breakfast, got dressed, and headed out to an outdoor family storytime at the library. It was the first time in over a year that my son had been to the library and my daughter’s first time. The combination of stories, singing, and dancing in the fresh air made the experience a big win. Before heading home, I picked up some more books and printed out our Summer Learning Challenge logs.

When we returned home, the little ones took to playing with their toys while I made lunch. After lunch, my husband brought out his guitar and musical keyboard for a family jam session. The children took turns strumming the guitar with their dad, and I, with my amateur fingers, managed to create a few simple (very, very simple) melodies on the keyboard.

We settled down to play with clay dough, which kept my son occupied long after my husband and daughter laid down for afternoon naps. The afternoon was flying by, and we hadn’t had any meltdowns over what was on television or playing on the handheld gaming device.

We snacked on popsicles during the afternoon thundershower and flipped through our books before ending the challenge by playing our favorite made-up dinosaur game. By the time it was over, I was actually not looking forward to pulling out my phone to see what I may have missed.

A Takeaway From The Digital Detox Challenge

My biggest takeaway from doing this digital detox is realizing how much time we spend with our family without actually spending time with our family.

When things get busy, it’s sometimes easier to turn on the television to distract the kids while I get work done. Trying to escape and have a moment to myself turns into hiding behind my cellphone screen while the children are playing right in front of me. My husband decompressing while playing his video games misses out on the children and me making messy, finger paint art.

For eight hours straight, my family was completely in the moment together and enjoying each other. If putting down our cellphones and turning off the television is what it takes to have more days like this, I’m down for the challenge!

If you’re thinking about doing a digital detox challenge with your family, don’t be afraid to adjust it to fit your lifestyle. There may be some devices that are more of a vice than others, so focus on those.

You may have older children who can participate in a longer challenge. However you choose to go screen-free, keep in mind that it is more about making the effort to enjoy your time with your family than stressing over winning a challenge.

Have you taken the Digital Detox Challenge? What was your experience?


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