Dare to imagine, if you will, going an entire day without using your phone.
You’d probably like to think that you could do it. Sure, there’d be the nagging sensation that you’re “naked,” and the flood of FOMO as you try not to think about the hilarious things your friends are tweeting. But you could probably do it, right?
OK, now try to imagine unplugging from ALL digital devices — including phones, computers, and TVs — for three whole days. THEN could you do it?
That’s the challenge that students at Stuart Hall and Convent of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco recently faced. The school was just one of several across the country that took part in a “Tech Timeout Academic Challenge,” where students voluntarily unplugged for three consecutive days. Yup, those brave heroes CHOSE to subject themselves to this form of modern-day torture.
The idea behind the challenge is to discover the potentially damaging role that technology plays in our lives. When our distracting digital devices are taken away and we’re left with just our minds and imaginations, can we still be social, creative, and functional members of society?
“A lot of what we are targeting with our tech timeout is the interruptions of social media and the pingings and the notifications that interrupt attention,” said Howard Levin, Stuart Hall’s director of education innovation and information services.
On the first day, participants sealed their digital devices inside of a manilla envelope and were challenged to not open it for the next three days. But because the envelopes were left in their possession, they did technically have the option of breaking the challenge. And, as you might have guessed, the separation anxiety got to be too much for some not-so-strong-willed students.
One student who cracked under the pressure admitted he “felt normal again” after reuniting with his precious phone, and that he was no longer haunted by FOMO once he could check social media again.
But other students who powered through the whole three days reported inspiring findings. They said the lack of distraction made them finish their homework faster, they participated more in class, they felt more creative and spent more time outside, and they had longer and more meaningful conversations with other people.
Overall, the challenge sounds like it was definitely a wakeup call for a lot of young tech users who now KNOW they can survive when left to their own devices. For the rest of us, it’s a gentle reminder that taking a break from our phones isn’t the nightmare we all imagine it to be…and it could actually do us a world of good.
Tell us: Do you think you could last three days without your phone? Let us know in the comments!