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food / travel

Digital Detox: How To Get Offline, Ideas From Around The World

Time to turn it off
Time to turn it off
Giacomo Tognini

In our increasingly digital world, people often feel the need to disconnect from the Internet for a dose of silence and breath of fresh air. Worldcrunch has reported recent stories from Brazil to California, about the hunt for "digital detox" solutions. With the help of the Internet (!), we've tracked down five other examples of people pushing ways to get offline in a flash.


German advertising magazine Horizont writes that telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom is urging customers to detox this holiday season, launching an advertising campaign that portrays a family having Christmas dinner without any technology. The advert shows a fictional family sitting down to have dinner together, after everyone has hidden or shut off their cell phone, tablet, or television.

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Deutsche Telekom management has also been pushing employees to limit their online activity, decided to stop sending emails during evenings, holidays and weekends so that employees can detox when they are not at work.


According to Geneva-based daily Le Temps, residents of the Swiss city seeking digital detox attended a "detox brunch" organized by a local association on Nov. 29. Hosted by a French restaurant with no WiFi connection, the event featured live music, a nursery for children and even a guarded cloakroom where visitors were encouraged to leave their cellphones and other devices.

If attendees took out their devices, others playfully called them out for being "addicts" and straying from the brunch rules. The organization behind the event, Made with Love, chose the concept of a "digital detox" brunch with the objective of bringing people closer together, away from the distractions of technology.


If you're looking for a radical yet foolproof way to cut your Internet use, then Belarus-born American technology writer Evgeny Morozov may have the answer. Morozov is a renowned lecturer and writer on the dangers of modern technology, holding positions at Stanford and Georgetown universities in the past. The Guardian writes that to spend more time reading and writing, he bought a laptop with an easily removable WiFi card so that he can't surf the web outside his home.

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Morozov safely off-line in 2014 — Photo: Chatham House

But Morozov doesn't stop there. Because he has a cable connection at home, he also purchased a safe and a combination lock with a timer, so he can lock away his router and phone for as long as he wants. Morozov also suggests hiding any screwdrivers in the safe — lest you get impatient and unscrew the panel before the time is up.


It might seem counterproductive to have to download an app in order to cut yourself off from the Internet, but the Durham, North Carolina startup Freedom proves otherwise. According to the Raleigh-based News & Observer, the app — available for Mac, Windows, Android and iOS — allows users to block specific websites or cut off access to the Internet altogether. A free version is limited to one device and only five websites, but Freedom offers more expensive packages that allow unlimited blocking.

Several other competitors provide similar services to Freedom, but technology news site Techcrunch reports that a new iPhone app called Moment helps users track their smartphone to better limit it in the future. When downloaded, Moment asks for limits on the usage of certain apps and then disappears, only notifying you in the future if you exceed your daily limits of smartphone usage.


The Dolomite mountains in northern Italy have long been a favorite destination for tourists in need of fresh mountain air and a retreat from busy city life. Italian daily La Stampa reports that the Mis Valley, a gateway to the Dolomites in the northeastern Veneto region, is being marketed as a "digital detox" travel destination for its spectacular lakes, waterfalls and mountains.

The local chamber of commerce is promoting several "digital detox walks" for tourists who want to cut themselves off from the Internet and hike among the valley's peaks and canyons. Despite being close to the provincial center of Belluno, the valley is almost entirely uninhabited, creating a perfect atmosphere for anyone wishing to rid themselves of electronic distractions.

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What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.

Image of a kid wearing a blue striped sweater, using an ipad.

Children exposed to technology at a very young age are prominent today.

Julián de Zubiría Samper


BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

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