A. Australian journalist Anna Magee went on a three-day digital detox retreat run by the organization Time to Log Off. Listen to five things she said about the retreat. Are they positive or negative?
1 negative 2 positive 3 positive 4 negative 5 positive
1 Suddenly I felt cut off and panicky.
2 We had lots of conversations with real-life humans.
3 I slept really well, for the first time in months.
4 I felt really disconnected and lonely.
5 I really noticed the beauty of the countryside.
B. Now listen to her talking about it on a radio show. On the whole, did she feel it was a positive or negative experience?
C. Listen again and mark the sentences T (true) or F (false). Correct the F sentences.
1 A quarter of UK adults check their phones in the middle of the night.
2 When Anna arrived at the house in Dorset, she felt very nervous.
3 The activities were not exactly what she was expecting.
4 The second day of the detox was easier than the first.
5 By the third day, her ability to concentrate had improved.
6 On her train journey home, she spent the time checking her phone.
7 Since the detox, her weekends and evenings are technology-free.
8 She enjoys her friends’ company more than she used to.
1 F (One in three UK adults checks their phones in the middle of the night)
4 F (The second evening, she felt very disconnected and lonely, and burst into tears during yoga.)
6 F (She didn’t check her phone on the train.)
7 F (She’s “technology-free” on Saturdays and doesn’t do email after 8:00 p.m.)
Technology addiction is real, and it’s creating mental health problems all over the world. According to a recent survey, one in three UK adults is so addicted to their phone that they regularly check it in the middle of the night. So it’s no surprise that the idea of a ‘digital detox’ is growing in popularity. But what is it actually like to go on one?
Time to Log Off is an organization which runs three-day digital detoxes in an old country house in Dorset, in the south-west of England. People who go on them are not allowed to use digital devices at all for three days.
Journalist Anna Magee felt she was addicted to her smartphone, so when she read about the detoxes, she decided to go on one. ‘When I arrived, the first thing I discovered was that there was no mobile phone coverage, so I couldn’t cheat even if I wanted to!
Suddenly I felt cut off and panicky. What if something happened to my husband? What if something terrible happened in the world? There were eight other people on the detox with me. At six p.m. we met in the living room and handed in our devices – our phones or tablets or whatever. People looked scared. I was worried there were going to be lots of lectures on psychology, things like that, but no. Instead, there was yoga, and walks through the countryside where we picked fruit and had lots of conversations with real-life humans. The first night I slept really well for the first time in months.
But it wasn’t always easy. The second evening without my phone, I felt really disconnected and lonely. At yoga that night, I burst into tears, and I felt awful not being able to call a friend. But by the third and final day, I had changed. When we went on our walk, I really noticed the beauty of the countryside. And I was able to sit still on the sofa, reading a book for nearly half an hour without losing concentration. I started colouring in pictures in books. I was even eating more slowly, in a more relaxed way.
At lunchtime the next day, we got our devices back and said goodbye. When I finally managed to get coverage, I hungrily checked my phone for messages, likes, comments, news. But nothing had really happened. I managed the whole two-hour train journey back without checking my phone again, just noticing the countryside instead.
It’s now three weeks since I went on the detox and though I can’t quite believe it, I have managed to control my use of technology. I have one full day unplugged each week, on Saturdays, and I feel incredibly rested on Sundays as a result. I don’t do email after eight p.m., and that really helps me to sleep. I know they’re tiny steps, but I feel that I’ve changed. When I’m chatting to friends, I feel that I’m much more present: I’m really focusing on them and not getting distracted by my phone. And I find that when I have a break, instead of wanting to scroll through Twitter or check WhatsApp, what I really want is real-life conversation.
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