Students and a yearly ritual of electronic abstinence

An annual, ritualistic cooling-off period - separating student from smartphone, toddler from tablet.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

This month, 115 seventh-graders at Greendale Middle School have binned their television fixes, and have resisted the temptation to play games on their consoles. Could your child do the same?

In an annual Spring ritual for charity, the Wisconsin-based K12 school run 'Tune Out' -- where children attempt to ditch their technology and unplug from anything and everything digital.


Could you go cold turkey? Away from Facebook, e-mail, television and your iPad? If you want to read a book to pass the time, using your Kindle isn't an option.

The 'Tune Out' program, constructed to raise money for charity as well as raise awareness of how much time students spend on their mobile devices. According to reports, some students managed a day or two before slipping, whereas others managed a week.

Out of the 115, approximately half have managed to stay the course and look set to complete the entire month without a technological device. The students still on track hope to remain 'unplugged' until June 1.

The rules of the challenge are very simple:

  • No television watching or movie rentals.
  • No video games -- playing or watching.
  • Devices cannot be used for entertainment purposes.

Computers can only be used for educational purposes -- such as research or online assignments. When the scheme was first brought to the school by a math teacher 5 years ago, John Marzion, texting was also off the menu -- but was reinstated after concerns from parents over contacting their children.

Before the challenge began, the school asks seventh-graders to keep daily logs of their technological use. Every students averaged out at 29 hours per week.

According to Marzion, once kids 'unplug', their concentration spans improve -- as well 'having' more time to spend outside and to complete their homework.

Last year, the challenge raised $10,583 for Acres of Hope and Aspirations, a charity that helps those with brain injuries. Marzion said:

"[The program] highlights that there are many caring, self-disciplined and empathetic 12- and 13-year-olds who want to make positive contributions to the world around them. I'm awed by how this has grown and the sacrifice they (and their families) make."

Image credit: Brad Flickinger


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