We're living in a time when cell phone over-use is ubiquitous.
Phone free day on Tuesday, January 31st was an initiative to raise awareness for how much time too many people spend with their head in their phones instead of the world around them! There was some tension in the atmosphere and giving up phones was harder for many than they had thought!
Without question, smartphones add a lot to our daily life - there's a good chance you're reading this on your phone right now! But, we chose to voice a concern and draw attention to how many opportunities for connection and experiences are missed by being glued to our phones.
Virtually all educators and psychiatric professionals I speak with agree that overuse of smartphones poses a risk. Due to the newness of the technology, there is not a wealth of research on the topic, but some early studies have found that chronic overuse of smart phones leads to greater chances of:
• Social isolation
• Being either a victim or perpetrator of bullying
• Difficulty with sleeping
• Diminished social and communicative skills
• Problems with back and neck health
With the announcement of our plan for "Phone-Free Day," our parents all received a letter with some tips on phone-use-management including:
Pick a predesignated shut down time for phones at night, at least an hour before a reasonable bedtime. Have a central location in your home to charge devices rather than have them bedside.
Investigate apps that can help parents track how long children have been on their phones and what apps they have used.
Create “phone free” spaces and times in your family schedule where phones are not welcome. Examples would be during dinner or in the first 10 minutes of a drive.
Model good behavior. Try to limit the number of times you check your phone when your kids are present
While I was pleased so many students got involved (and most were successful), what made me happiest were the conversations I had with a number of students on the topic. It was fun to challenge the refrain of, "There is no way I can spend a whole day without my phone."
Many students were surprised to hear that the first iPhone only came out 10 years ago. I was even surprised about how many times over the course of the day I reached for my phone only to remind myself that what I was looking for was not all that important. NHS students seem to use smartphones at the same rate as students at public high schools, but we are lucky - due to our intimate size- to be able to engage in topics like these with our students.
71 students and teachers participated in our first ever "Phone Free Day." There are plans for another date next year!