A few months ago, I read about the importance of turning off your phones once in awhile. Ever since then, I”ve made it a New Year”s Resolution to make meal times a no phone zone. It”s a small but effective start decrease our dependency towards these addictive pieces of technology. When I”m out to lunch or dinner with my friends or family, I take responsibility and confiscate everyone”s phones, putting them where everyone can see it. If anyone checks their phone during our time together (that includes the torturous wait for our food), they”ll have to pay for everyone”s meals. That”s one very expensive text to check. But is it effective?

I was at a friend”s dinner party where I had just got acquainted with her friends; people I hadn”t had the chance to meet before. I didn”t think they would feel comfortable giving me their phones and frankly, meeting so many new people (aka new Twitter followers) made me forget as well. It was only after everyone started browsing their feeds, instagramming their food, and sharing funny pictures they saw on the internet with each other that I realized the effect turning off your phone had during mealtime. Conversations went from profound topics about our thoughts on current events to bantering about the latest viral video. You know, the one with the bunny eating the raspberries? Candid opinions and comments were downgraded to snorts and laughter driven by a 30 second video clip with essentially no real substance. In order to avoid these moments and have conversations without the help from your screens, here are 5 additional benefits to disconnecting once in a while:

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1. Ignorance is Bliss 

When you”re constantly tweeting and updating your status, the only thing on your mind is usually how many people are liking your status, or reading your tweets. Without a certain number of likes or retweets, it”s easy to feel neglected and lesser than the rest of your followers, whose network is 10% larger than yours is. Disconnecting yourself from social media, even for just or a few hours, allows you to forget about your statistics and focus on more important things. Perhaps getting your family to like you more?

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 2. Encourage Face to Face Communication

You”re missing out on a lot when you”re spending so much time behind your screen. Emoticons might express your feelings well, but the expressions on people”s faces just cannot be captured into a yellow face. Put your phone down and have a face-to-face conversation instead. It gives you a chance to build your oral skills, make some memories, and have more candid moments with your friends. Chances are, the person you spend time talking online with for many hours is actually a lot different in person. (And they respond a lot casino faster, too.)

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 3. Stop Yourself From Oversharing

No matter how good you think your breakfast, lunch, and dinner looked on Saturday, not everyone cares. (sorry!) Sometimes, it”s rewarding to enjoy your meal without the constant need to update your virtual friends about it. Spark conversation with the person you”re sharing the meal with, or take yourself out to lunch. Time with yourself is not only refreshing, but also it helps you connect with your thoughts and boosts your confidence.

 4. Boost Your Creativity

Sure, exposing yourself to the comedians and makeup gurus of the World Wide Web can spark some creativity, but original work comes at the most unexpected moments. It may come during a walk in the park, or even in the shower (it”s happened to me). Real life experiences drive our creativity. It encourages us to think about the events that occur during the day and avoid distractions caused by the latest updates on our phones. Distract yourself off your phone by trying a new activity. Whether you”re burning calories at a fitness class or taking a walk down the streets of the downtown core, turning off your phone is sometimes all it takes to turn on your creativity.

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 5. Help Yourself Sleep Better

If you can”t put your phone down during the day, try putting it down an hour before you go to bed. If you”re anything like me, going to bed with your phone in hand can end up with you browsing your feeds, attempting to beat your 2048 score, or spark late night conversations with that insomniac we all know on our friend”s list. Thus, bed times fail and circadian rhythms are skewed, resulting in the distaste of mornings to begin with. Scientifically, the brightness of your screen tampers with your sleep (and beauty: gasp!) as well. And well, you can”t argue with science.

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 Whether you”re telling the world about your day, or sending your best friend a snap that cannot be processed by the human eye, it seems that Generation Y is all about their screens. When we”re not updating, we”re thinking about ways we can be updating. Of course, staying connected has its perks as well. You wouldn”t be reading about the valuable reasons to disconnect if you weren”t connected, now would you? However, small changes can make a big impact on our daily lives. It is only after you start disconnecting every once in awhile that we start to realize about everything else that the world has to offer. Whether it”s for half an hour or an entire day, it”s important to take some time for ourselves. Try it! (But only after you share this post!)

Written By: Tasnia Nasar

photo Tasnia is currently a student at the University of Waterloo. With an interest in marketing & PR, her passion includes  reading, writing, and watching commercials on YouTube.  Follow her on twitter @tasnia_n!