The Beauty of (Almost) Going Tech-Free weekend at my camp has come to an end, and our policy has allowed 130 students and faculty present to take themselves “off the grid”: No computers, no cell phones, no iPads.

The craziest part?  No one seems to miss their technology.  

***Full disclosure:  Many faculty are using computers and iPads for a limited time each day.  Our email from work at home calls out to us, but only for an hour a day or so.  The students are without all their “gear”.  They had to leave it at home.***

While sitting at lunch yesterday, one student explained to me how weird it was that someone wasn’t pulling out a cell phone every few minutes to text.  She said that she didn’t miss seeing that at all.

Don’t get me wrong.  The internet is incredible, and so is technology.  After all, a few hours after I type this post, thousands of people will read it.  How cool is that??  Back in the day, I would write this in a journal with pen and paper and keep it to myself (or not write at all as the case was).

Yet the internet (and other technology) has its drawbacks.  Research has shown the following:

  • People are spending over 30 percent of their leisure time online (this does NOT include their work day).  This also does not include cell phones and other devices; just internet.
  • A survey by the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation found that kids are spending an average of 7.5 hours a day using electronic media, which includes TV, the internet, video games, and mobile devices.  That’s over 53 hours a week…more than some of their parents work!
  • Probably not a surprise, but children who use technology heavily tend to have lower grades in school than light users.
  • 75% of all 12 to 17 year olds own cell phones.  Most of them use it for texting, not talking.  Half of them send 50 or more texts per day; 1 in 3 send over 100.  3000 texts a month?  Wow.

The scary part?  The texting and web use is not in lieu of TV watching.  Nielsen Company’s research shows that TV viewing has gone steady or even increased as internet use has gone up.

We are addicted to our media.

In all fairness, many people spend time on the internet reading (like you right now!).  But (and I really hate saying this) the reading is different.  Blogs beg us to skim and scroll and move on rather quickly (the average stay on my blog is 2.5 minutes, which is considered kind of good), whereas books will always be better for us to read.  Books require calm and focused concentration; not clicking and short-attention-span surfing.

I walked campus today with my colleagues and my students and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings and the crisp weather.  We played at the pond and sat on the huge grass hill overlooking the mountains.  No one’s head was down looking at a screen.  We stopped emailing, texting, surfing, and posting…and we were just fine.

The digital revolution has put our devices in control of our lives….but not this summer.

Speak Your Mind