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National Day of Unplugging, NYC: What to do instead of staring at your phone

From sundown Friday, March 9 through sundown Saturday, March 10, participate in this national day of digital detox — for your mental health.
You know what's more fun than staring at your iPhone? Climbing. Photo: Brooklyn Boulders/Facebook.

If you’re like most Americans, chances are you’re on your phone too much. Research shows that tech addiction, although not on the same level as drug or alcohol dependence, is certainly a habit-forming behavior that can negatively affect our mental health and wellbeing. A 2017 study published in Sage Journal found a correlation between the amount of time teens spent on smartphones and social media and a rise in depressive and suicidal symptoms. 

There are efforts in place to curb the compulsion to check Instagram or click on every news push notification. Apps like Forest help you cut down on phone time by setting a countdown timer for how long you want to stay away (if you touch your phone during that window, the app will send you messages like “Don’t look at me”), while Moment tracks how much time you spend on your phone and gives you the option to set daily limits. 

If you could use a little community incentive, there’s a real life challenge to get off the grid: the ninth annual National Day of Unplugging, happening from sundown on Friday, March 9 through sundown, Saturday, March 10. 

The ninth annual 24-hour digital detox is the brainchild of global Jewish nonprofit Reboot and draws inspiration from the Sabbath, the weekly Jewish tradition of observing the holy day of rest beginning every Friday at sundown. 

You can observe the phone-fast any number of ways, but if you need a little inspiration, Reboot has organized events nationwide to give you an alternative to being on your phone. 

In New York, spend the afternoon gripping the climbing wall instead of your device at Brooklyn Boulders (Queensbridge location), which is hosting a National Unplugging Day event from 1 to 4 p.m. (free for members, $19 for guests). In addition to free rein to climb, there will be live music by Arin Maya, a yoga class led by Lululemon, a workshop on “setting intentions” a mate tea ceremony, and more. Tickets here. 

At 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, the JCC Harlem hosts “Unplugged: Tales of Addiction,” an evening of stories about “emails you wish you never sent, Facebook arguments you wish you never had, and your first OK Cupid profile.” Arrive at 7:10 to participate in Havdalah, a ritual that marks the end of Sabbath with song. (Tickets $12, wine included.) 

Find more information at nationaldayofunplugging.com