Step one: Find a principal willing to pay US$100 for you not to use your phones, laptops and videogame consoles.
Diana Smith was one such principal. The educator at a charter school in Washington, DC came up with the plan when she got worried about how technology was impacting childrens’ psyches and behaviours. And not for the better either.
According to The Star, this then spurred her to challenge her students at the Washington Latin Public Charter School in eighth and ninth grades to not use their tech devices for 24 hours every Tuesday from June 13 to Aug 22.
The reward? US$100.
Students had to get two adult testimonies as proof that they managed to do so. 34 kids succeeded.
“I’ve had kids say that they realise that they can always rely on their own thoughts,” Smith said.
“They can think more. They know what it feels like now to not have to reach for the phone.”
Smith’s top two concerns with these devices were sleep and “the drama that the girls engage in over the phones.
“The boys and girls text each other at 3 or 4 in the morning and they walk in here and they can’t function,” Smith said.
Is Your Teen A Smartphone Addict? https://t.co/FF4gvAyKYh
— John M. Fowler (@johnfowlerlaw) September 18, 2017
A 2015 study by the nonprofit group Common Sense Media found that teens are spending nearly up to 9 hours a day, while children aged 8 to 12 are spending close to 6 hours daily doing the same thing.
Researchers have also found evidence that small children’s ability to focus and build vocabularies become affected when they become addicted to their tablets or smartphone. According to Psychology Today, these devices make them more accustomed to constant stimuli, attention and exposure as well. This could lead to “sensory overload, lack of restorative sleep, and a hyperaroused nervous system”.
Did the experiment work?
According to Smith, students survived without their phones and turned to baking and hanging out with friends. One family even had a huge water fight, just like the old days.
The idea, she explained, “is for you to discipline yourself. It is like fasting … to feel and understand what happens to your life when you go without. Live without the screens for a day a week and see what happens.”
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