Written by: Kendall A. | Umm Iman
My family and I have recently taken up the challenge of going tech-free for 24 hours, every weekend. For us, this means: no televisions, no screens, no laptops/devices, no radio, and no phones (we do use my actual camera if I want to take pictures). This has been such a beautiful and important time for all of us to reconnect as a family, disengage from the outside world, slow down time for just a bit, be fully present in the moment, gain clarity of thought, and increase our worship. I thoroughly look forward to this time every week, and as the hours decrease within the 24-hour period, my heart longs for it to continue without cease.
Being tech-free for that time every weekend always makes me wonder what life was like for people before technology. Sure, we can read about history and how people spent their time, but what did it feel like to not be distracted by technology? Were the people more in tune with themselves, with nature, with Allah swt? What did they prioritize? How did they spend their time? How were their relationships impacted? I often times feel that I am from the wrong generation–that I would have fared far better in a land faraway, in an era from the past where simplicity ruled, in contrast to our fast-paced world today. I find myself desiring to find a remote location somewhere on this earth to live that simple lifestyle, free from the worries of money, status, judgment, etc. A place where family and worship are the top priorities, where relaxation is truly that without the background noise of worrying about what I need to do next. 24-hour tech-free makes that dream a reality for me, even if for just a moment each week before it fades once again into the reality that is the life I currently live. Alas, the end of the 24-hour period each week reminds me to work hard again throughout the week in anticipation for the respite that comes with the next tech-free period.
24-hour tech-free has been a game changer for my family. It starts at 6pm on Saturday evening, just before bed time for my children. We usually listen to a sleep song and some audio stories before bed, but during tech-free time, the sounds of nature outside are what lull them to sleep, and we read from our library before bed. For me, the night is peaceful. I can hear the sounds outside, my own breathing, my own thoughts, the sounds of whatever I am engaged with–cooking, cleaning, creating. The sound of the adhan clock and my intention are what wake me for fajr. The next morning, kitchen sounds are clearer as breakfast is prepared. Without the distraction of the phone, television, or computer true presence is achieved in every interaction. We often spend these days out in nature and/or cleaning at home.
24-hour tech-free has prompted me to be more mindful about my technology use throughout the rest of the week and to intentionally reduce it to certain points of the day. I do use my laptop for my work; however, I have limited myself to checking the phone four times during the time that the children are awake. It’s a work in progress, but I am happy to be working on it, as I can see the positive effects of it on their behavior and feeling acknowledged. We tend to be good about our screen time, often not using the television during the scheduled daily time between Monday-Friday, but it is something that I want to make sure that I am being careful about as well.
We have been very happy with the effects of this valuable time for our family, and I invite you to consider it, or some semblance of it, for your family as well in seeing how it might be of benefit for you!