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Digital Detox: Helping Teens Unplug in a Virtual World

Young boy at a table crafting

Digital Detox: Helping Teens Unplug in a Virtual World

August 9, 2021 • ByBrittany Terrell, MSW

Youth are spending more time in front of their screens due to virtual learning, but how do you help them find a balance between being connected and unplugging?

The most critical component to unplugging, for both adults and children, is finding structured activities that are enjoyable and completely away from the screen. This is known as unplugging from your phones and plugging into the community, namely being outdoors and engaging in hands-on projects. Human interaction and connection is critical to our development, and finding ways to implement these connections within the structure of what’s already routine is what’s key to remaining invested.

People are often disinterested in additions to their routine and may reject it because they will automatically say they don’t have enough time. For teens, it is important to unplug during break times for their virtual learning and replacing it with outdoor activity. If outdoor activities are not an option, assess your teen’s creative interests and engage with them to model the importance of exploring the possibilities.

As it relates to outdoor activities, these can range from sports to sidewalk art, water games, gardening, building projects, and family or peer field day fun! Creative indoor projects can range from painting to music lessons, artistic science experiments, drawing, clay manipulation, knitting/sewing, paper projects, and woodworking.

Young boy at a table crafting

The key to gaining momentum around these projects are participation, engagement, and conversation. It’s important to know what drives your child when it comes to creativity and their imagination. Once you’ve figured those out, coming up with DIY assignments will be a breeze!

For reference, here are some creative project ideas to get started:

Overall, a digital detox is essential to the well-being of both adults and children. Putting down the device can mean improved mental health, better sleep, healthier work/life balance, and decreasing social comparison, the stress of fitting in and preoccupation of validation from peers.

The best way to ensure balance and alleviate the stress of consistent screen time would be completely taking time away from devices and enjoying life technology-free. Hopefully, these resources will be a start to help your family or your students create a healthier and happier lifestyle.


1. What is a Digital Detox? Kendra Cherry, November 20, 2020.

Cherry, K. (2020, November 20). The benefits of doing a Digital Detox. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/why-and-how-to-do-a-digital-detox-4771321.

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