How to digital detox in 2021

Between Zoom meeting marathons, all day online schooling, and remote events, even tech-forward Gen Zs and Millennials are reaching a breaking point with screens. Cassandra reported about virtual burnout as early May 2020, only a few months into the pandemic, as discussed in our Media and Entertainment Special Release. The Social Dilemma documentary further catapulted this sentiment, prompting questions and conversations about social media and the role of screens in our lives, as these generations aim to live with more intention. While technology has thankfully connected us all during this critical time, it’s also made many young people want to take time to go off grid - or at least, off ‘gram. Read below to learn about three developments in the growing digital detox industry.


Meet Dispo, an app that wants its users to “live in the moment.” Created by Gen Z YouTube celeb David Dobrik, Dispo is a social network + photo-sharing app. Designed to operate like a disposable camera, Dispo allows users to take pics but they have to wait for them to “develop” the next day thus encouraging the user to get back to experiencing the moment they are in. The app also allows for creative collaboration with friends based on shared interests. The app has no homepage and no camera roll. While some are calling Dispo “the next Instagram," the app is actually the antithesis of the many popular social media platforms today. Rather than heavily filtered and highly curated “perfect” imagery, Dispo is raw and relatable, traits that helped give rise to TikTok’s success. Dispo is already rising the ranks on the Apple App Store, seeing investor interest, and planning to open offices around the globe.


Artist Joe Hollier and product designer Kaiwei Tang want consumers to go light. Their Light Phone II is “intentionally designed to be used as little as possible,” which speaks straight to Cassandra’s intentional living trend covered in our 2021 Outlook Report. The phone’s super simple design strategically puts communication at its core; the Light Phone II can call, text, set alarms, play podcasts and music, but that’s about it. There are no frills, no feeds, no ads, news or even email functionality. The company believes that “breaking free from a smartphone is a life-changing experience.”


Hosted by young Millennials Ben and Hector, Unplugged, is a 3-day Digital Detox that’s just the way to go off grid and recharge. Set in the bucolic hills North of London, visitors stay at the Rockells Cabin where they start their experience by literally locking up their phone. Despite the retreat being tech-free, there’s plenty to do; guests can play with a Polaroid camera, listen to cassette tapes, explore the countryside, write postcards, check out local pubs, or just hang out. Now that’s the simple life! Pricing starts at $544.