Breaking News
More () »

JOMO Week: Families disconnect from phones to reconnect in the Smokies

“You can just come and spend an hour or two and really feel like you have stepped away from the world.”

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The joy of missing out blooms naturally in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, despite the constant stream of information and technology at our fingertips.

That's because, with little to no cell service along most trails, the park offers a natural solution to a man-made challenge: escaping our fast-paced society. 

JOMO Week: What is the 'Joy of Missing Out?'

“The park offers so many opportunities for families to reconnect while disconnecting," said park spokesperson Dana Soehn. 

“They’re finding that people have far less social anxiety, less depression when they spend just as little as twenty minutes in nature.”

The many trails in the Smokies aren't the only place where the joy of missing out is flourishing. Some coffee shops, restaurants and breweries have begun not offering Wi-Fi and instead hoisting signs reading "No Wi-Fi...talk to each other!"  

Other places such as yoga studios offer an hour or more of relaxed activity without the constant buzz of cell phones and social media. 

Back at the park, Tanya Johnson said she brought her young kids for a hike to teach them the value of JOMO. 

“I feel like my kids are growing up so fast and we are stuck on the couch watching TV and all that stuff, and I’m like really, this is what I imagined for my kids when I had kids. Coming out and hiking every day, so we really try to take advantage of that," she said. 

Shirley Laszewski convinced her son Danny to skip work and enjoy a phone-free day in the park with their family. 

“The love of your family is everything," said Shirley. 

JOMO Week: 3 rules to cut screen time

“We look back, we won’t remember what we did work wise or whatever else but we’ll remember being together," Danny replied. 

Soehn, the park spokesperson who accompanied 10News through the park, says if you're looking for an escape, you cannot go wrong picking a trail. 

“Most of the park doesn’t have cell phone coverage that’s reliable," she said. 

“You can just come and spend an hour or two and really feel like you have stepped away from the world.”

Park staff still recommend bringing a phone in case of emergency, but keeping it off or on airplane mode if you want to take pictures without worrying about the risk of getting notifications while on the trails.