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Take a break from your smartphone

From CNET Magazine: Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, so why are you stressing yourself out with emails and alerts?

Daniel Garcia

Dear Maggie,

My husband and I realized we've been spending too much time on our phones when our toddler held up his finger to shush me while looking down at his "phone" -- an old remote we had for our air conditioner -- and told me he had to finish sending his message.

We've decided to go on a digital detox for this summer's vacation, but the thought of parting with my iPhone for a week is anxiety-inducing. Do you have any tips for us?

Slave to my smartphone

Dear Smartphone Slave,

Vacation used to be a time to relax and recharge. But now that you can get Wi-Fi at 35,000 feet, cell service in the middle of the ocean and international data plans, it's much harder to get away from all that.

But studies show that being connected 24/7 can take its toll on our physical and emotional health. The blue light from our screens can sabotage a good night's sleep, and social media obsession can cause depression.

Here are a few tips to help you break up with your smartphones -- at least for a few weeks.

Announce your tech-free vacation: Tell colleagues, friends and family that you'll answer their calls and emails when you return. If there's a true emergency, they'll figure out a way to get in touch with you. 

Set realistic limits: There are certain situations where you may want your smartphone to help you find landmarks or restaurants. And who even owns a camera anymore? You don't have to go cold turkey. You just have to decide which activities are OK for phone use -- like allowing yourself to post vacation photos to Instagram once a day.

Create an internet-free zone: Put your phone in airplane mode. This will allow you to use it as a camera, music player or digital reader without being bombarded by emails, alerts and Facebook posts.

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Mark Mann

Hide it: Some people find that having a phone anywhere in sight is too tempting. The safest bet is to lock it in the hotel safe until you're ready to leave for home. 

Go analog: Remember books and magazines? Try reading one of them instead of what's on your device. And bring some games the whole family can enjoy like Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, Bananagrams or my family's favorite, the classic 1990s word guessing game Taboo.

Get busy outdoors: Explore your surroundings, write in a travel journal, sample the local foods. You're here to make memories, right?  

The bottom line: Accept that you don't always have to be available online. After all, isn't that why you're on holiday? 

Marguerite Reardon (@maggie_reardon) answers readers' phone, wireless and broadband questions. Email yours to Please put "Ask Maggie" in the subject header. Follow her "Ask Maggie" page on Facebook.

This story appears in the summer 2018 edition of CNET Magazine. Click here for more magazine stories.

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