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By Melissa Ford
What if you INTENTIONALLY limited your screen time and if you're a parent, restricted your child’s screen consumption? Why? Because our addiction to screens has resulted in many of us sacrificing those real connections with our friends, families and communities. It’s time to take back the quality of your life.
Between April 3 - 17th, you’re invited to participate in Tune into Community and Tune Out TV, an event sponsored by the Collaboration for Early Childhood Care & Education and the River Forest and Forest Park Public Libraries, “encouraging people of all ages to engage in activities outside of screens; activities which are mentally, physically, socially and emotionally fulfilling.”
The minute I heard about this event, I couldn't contain my enthusiasm. . . and I began to scheme.
Excited by the endless possibilities of learning about life without screens, I concocted an educational opportunity involving high school kids - big users of screens. Special thanks to Abby Lantz, Features Editor for OPRFHS’s newspaper, Trapeze, for recruiting Laura Brennan and Anna Gaebler, Trapeze reporters. For three days, Laura and Anna turned their lives upside down by turning off screens. (And, they lived to write about it.) They documented one full day without cell phones (think texting!), iPods, TV, internet - except for necessary school purposes.
Folks, if they can do it - YOU CAN DO IT. . . I double dare ya!!
Below is Laura Brennan's article. Stay tuned for Anna Gaebler’s report coming up in my next post.
News Staff, Trapeze
7 a.m.: Unfortunately, sleeping with my cell phone next to my pillow was not an option. Time to crank out an ancient technology: the alarm clock. After subconsciously whacking what I thought was the snooze button, I went back to sleep only to wake up truly alarmed half an hour later. Apparently, alarm clocks don't go off every five minutes after the first ring. Already behind schedule, I reached for my iPod to wake myself up, but to no avail. Brushing my teeth in silence isn’t the same.
12: p.m.: My cell phone is always in my back pocket. Always. There are even worn spots on the back pockets of my jeans as a result. After every class, I got up and subconsciously checked my pocket to make sure my cell phone hadn’t fallen out. By lunchtime, I’d already suffered four momentary panic attacks, thinking my phone was missing. And let’s face it - there are some classes where you feel rude having to do a complete 180 to check the clock behind you. Having a cell phone on hand is key to make the minutes go faster during class.
4 p.m.: I get home and suddenly long for contact with the outside world. Unfortunately, I can’t talk to anyone through Facebook or Skype or text. I could call from my house phone, but all my numbers are stored in my cell phone - and anyways, who makes phone calls anymore? My other desire is to do something that requires zero brainpower. Except there’s no TV, iTunes or Facebook to numb my mind so, instead, I start homework by default. The irony is evident.
8 p.m.: After multiple hours of doing homework without any background music, the silence is hurting my ears, and I do something that I would usually shun on any typical weeknight: initiate a conversation with my family. After they realize that I’m only conversing with them to procrastinate on the rest of my homework (again, the irony is there), they shun me and coerce me back into my communication-less world. I am later forced to call one of my few friends whose number I have memorized in order to obtain the number of another friend. After undergoing that process, I realize that people can't call me back anyways because I’m using a house phone - half my family is already asleep, and the ringing would wake them up. The good news? Sleep is actually in sight for myself since I’ve been productive all evening.
Pro: More sleep
Con: Silence is distracting.