Data Detox – Part 1

I got a new phone a few weeks ago . . . my 15-year old daughter’s hand-me-down. It’s an “upgrade” for me. She got a new phone, so her old one was sent in for a replacement battery, resulting in a better phone for me, so there you go . . . upgrade. I’m not quite sure how to define that point in your life when it becomes more important for your child to have an up-to-date phone than you. 

Since I had to back everything up to the cloud so I could move over to the “new” phone, this seemed like a perfect time to embark on my “Data Detox”. I decided I simply wouldn’t re-enable various applications and see how long I could go without. I made it about a week for some apps, longer for others. It’s interesting to see which apps were most necessary for my daily routine: email, calendar, banking (mom, can you transfer some $ for gas?), Nordic Ski wiki (knowing when and where my son needs to be), maps, weather, fitness app.

Some other interesting revelations . . . 

Better relationship with the kids: One of the apps that I had installed – PowerSchool – allows me to check in and see how my kids are doing in school – what their grades are, upcoming assignments, etc. By not having the app at my fingertips, I noticed I didn’t nag the kids as often. They’re 15 and 17 so probably high time that I let go of this anyway. I think our relationship improved and they had to manage things, including if they failed to turn something in on time. Side note . . . they both finished the year with high honors. Obviously me checking PowerSchool wasn’t doing a whole lot of good for any of us.

Greater appreciation for my surroundings: It’s amazing how much time you can waste on social media apps. And I mean waste. You get sucked in and 50 minutes later . . . where did the time go? I didn’t miss it. So what pulled me back in? Needing to contact someone and they only way I knew how to get ahold of them was on Facebook. Heading to a conference and wanting to engage with others attending via Twitter. My oldest, was abroad in Italy and posting updates on Instagram. The immediate family of 5, having a Snap group “Lit Lukens” where we share silly stuff (which I really do enjoy.) So, the trick for me is to find the balance . . . just because it’s at your fingertips doesn’t mean you have to access it ALL THE TIME.

Sheer amount of apps not used: 213 apps or web short-cuts that I have installed on my phone. It’s been about 1 month, and I’ve re-enabled 52 of them. Time to purge.

And yet, just removing unused apps, while important for many reasons, is only part of the “Data Detox” that I’ll be sharing with others in an upcoming workshop. Establishing good habits and practices is equally important. 

I’ve participated in an exercise called the Visitor-Resident model which walks you through a self-examination of your engagement with the web and various tools on the web, critically analyzing whether you are more of a visitor (looking, borrowing, exploring) or more of a resident (contributing, collaborating, commenting), and whether your engagement is different for personal use than professional use. Most recently, this model has shifted to the Digital Triangle Model, which again, prompts us to analyze our relationship with open and closed practices of technologies that support the consumption, conversation and creation of ideas on the web.

I look forward to the continuation of my own personal Data Detox and reflection on how my relationship with my phone and tools plays out in my personal and professional life. Stay tuned . . .

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