How to Embrace a Digital Detox

By Joy Lo

Smartphones have improved our lives in a variety of ways, especially for keeping in touch with family and friends when traveling in a different country. We all know that the constant use of our phones also comes with downsides: distraction, inability to live in the moment, and a feeling of missing out, to name a few.

Do you feel like you’re a little too attached to your phone? Take back the power in your relationship with technology by embracing a digital detox! Don’t worry about doing these things all at once; pick a few ideas and start small to change your patterns.

Understand Your Digital Habits

Enes in Colorado

Enes from Türkiye took time to reflect in Colorado. Image courtesy of Enes.

Start by answering these questions to understand what you may want to change.

  • How much time do I spend on my phone each day?
  • Do I look at social media whenever I feel bored?
  • Is my cell phone always within my reach?
  • Do I feel stress if I haven’t been on an electronic device for a few hours?
  • How does being on my phone or social media make me feel?

Journal your answers and set goals for how you want to move forward.

Take Back Bedtime


Image courtesy of Pexels.

Using electronic devices in bed can hurt your ability to sleep.

  • Schedule your phone to go on night mode, which minimizes blue light, from sundown to sunrise.
  • Put your phone and other electronics away at least one hour before bedtime.
  • Turn off notifications while you’re sleeping.

90% of 18 to 29-year-olds sleep with their phone in, or right next to, their beds.

Limit Social Media


Image courtesy of Pexels.

Being on social media constantly can stop us from living in the moment.

  • Decide how much time you want to spend on social media per day and set your phone (or an app) to block you from those sites once you’ve reached that limit
  • Take a break from social media one day per week or one week per month.

The average person spends over two hours per day on social media.

Snap Fewer Photos


Adriana from Paraguay captured memories of her time in the U.S. Image courtesy of Adriana.

We want you to document your time on your exchange program, but we want you to live in the moment even more.

  • Take a few great photos that you’ll look back at instead of trying to capture hundreds of images in the quest for the perfect shot.
  • Post your photos to social media after your outing or trip, instead of during it, so that you can focus on the present.
  • Try a photo free day each week and don’t take any pictures at all.

Over one billion photos are uploaded worldwide each day.

Observe Mealtime Manners


Image courtesy of Pexels.

When sharing a meal with friends, focus on your conversation instead of your phone.

  • While waiting for a friend at a restaurant, put your phone away and observe the people around you.
  • If you want to take a photo of your food, be quick and put your phone down as soon as you’re done.
  • Try “phone stacking” - you and all your friends put your phones in the middle of the table and whoever touches theirs first has to buy dessert for everyone!

82% of people feel that using a phone in social settings can hurt conversations.

Try a Digital Detox


Iulia from Romania embraced the great outdoors. Image courtesy of Iulia.

A digital detox is when you don’t use your electronics for a certain amount of time so you can embrace the world around you.

  • You can detox from all electronics, social media, email, or individual devices - it’s up to you.
  • Detox for a few hours, one day, or one week.
  • Recruit a friend to do the detox with you.
  • Let friends and family know if you do a long detox, so they don’t worry about not hearing from you.
  • If you’re on a program that requires check-ins, don’t forget to do them.

80% of people who’ve done a digital detox felt liberated afterward.

Joy Lo By

Joy is a huge advocate for cultural exchange. She's lived across the U.S. and various countries around the world including the UK, Australia and Indonesia. She has a unique perspective on working and thriving in other cultures. She's been a contributing author on Au Pair USA program.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation