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Why can't people disconnect on vacation?

Thursday - 7/19/2012, 6:39am  ET

Ocean City (WTOP Photo/Colleen Kelleher)
Families enjoy time together at Ocean City. (WTOP Photo/Colleen Kelleher)

Are you able to unplug on vacation and relax? Or do you wind up bringing your smartphone everywhere? Why is it important for you to stay plugged in? How you manage to take a break from the technology? Post a comment in this story, comment on WTOP's Facebook Page or use #WTOPTalkback or #WTOP on Twitter.

Randi Martin, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Beach gear for summer vacations used to be all about bathing suits and suntan lotion. Now, it's about packing smartphones, laptops, iPads, X- Boxes and Kindles. Wait. Is that a vacation?

While 24/7 access to gadgets is great, it can make an enjoyable, well-deserved family vacation go haywire. So why can't people disconnect?

Author of "Driven to Distraction" Dr. Edward Hallowell says the central nervous system has been reprogrammed to expect interruptions because people are always waiting for that bell to ring.

That bell comes in the form of new texts, emails and games or voice messages.

People have developed a habit, if not an addiction, to the thrill of fresh messages to the point of avoiding the real world.

Hallowell's solution: "'TIO' Turn It Off...it's so simple but so difficult."

In short, people need to set boundaries and create structure to have time to spend with family and friends.

After all, isn't that why people take vacations?

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)