‘Digital Detox’ is a practice we all want to acquire but fail miserably more often than not. However, a village in Maharashtra’s Sangli district has some lessons for us and is also a way out of the clutter of electronic gadgets and the online world. The residents of the village are in for a “digital detox” every evening when a siren goes off every evening at a local temple signaling people to put off all their gadgets including mobile phones, and TV sets. The time before the second alarm at 8.30 pm signaling the end of the detox period is to indulge in reading books, studying, and talking with one another.
Maharashtra’s Digital Detox village
The sarpanch of Mohityanche Vadgaon village, Vijay Mohite mooted this idea with the support of residents who have been participating in this beneficial exercise enthusiastically. This routine is even followed on Sundays in the village of 3,105 The 90 minutes period is supervised by a team of Anganwadi workers, ASHA personnel, and teachers, both serving and retired wherein each one takes up a clutch of houses in their vicinity and goes around checking if children are studying and not slacking off.
Since March 2020, the COVID19-induced lockdown brought everything online, handling smartphones into the hands of children as well as adults the whole day. Mohite observed this phenomenon and thought of a new way to curb digital addiction by performing a ‘digital detox’ every day for an hour and a half.
Mohite said that when physical classes resumed, teachers were surprised to see kids had become lazy and weren’t interested in reading or writing, and most were engrossed in their phones before and after school hours. “When physical classes resumed, teachers realized children had become lazy, did not want to read and write, and were mostly engrossed in their mobile phones before and after school hours. There weren’t separate study rooms in the homes of the villagers. So I put forth the idea of a digital detox,” the Sarpanch said while speaking to PTI.
Initially, when the detox was first announced, the villagers were hesitant as the idea of staying away from smartphones and TV appeared impossible. However, on Independence day, they convened a gram sabha of women and decided to purchase a siren to ‘sound the alarm’.