What happened when I made my students turn off their phones

<em>Photo Dick Thomas Johnson</em>

Excerpt from this article:

Initially, 37 per cent of my 30 students – undergraduates at Boston University – were angry or annoyed about this experiment. While my previous policy leveraged public humiliation, it didn’t dictate what they did with their phones in class. For some, putting their phones into cases seemed akin to caging a pet, a clear denial of freedom. Yet by the end of the semester, only 14 per cent felt negatively about the pouches; 11 per cent were ‘pleasantly surprised’; 7 per cent were ‘relieved’; and 21 per cent felt ‘fine’ about them.

Workarounds emerged immediately. Students slid their phones into the pouches without locking them, but because they still couldn’t use their phones in class, this became a quiet act of rebellion, rather than a demonstration of defiance. Some of them used their computers, on which we often search databases and complete in-class exercises, to text or access social media. I’m not comfortable policing students’ computer screens – if they really want to use class time to access what YONDR denies them, that’s their choice. The pouches did stop students from going to the bathroom to use their phones. In previous semesters, some students would leave the room for 10 to 15 minutes and take their phones with them. With phones pouched, there were very few bathroom trips.

 

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Teens ‘rebelling against social media’, say headteachers

Girls give up their phones at Beneden for three days

Excerpt from this article:

Almost two-thirds of schoolchildren would not mind if social media had never been invented, research suggests.

A survey of almost 5,000 students, mainly aged between 14 and 16, found a growing backlash against social media – with even more pupils (71%) admitting to taking digital detoxes to escape it.

Benenden, an independent girls boarding school in Kent, told BBC News that its pupils set up a three-day “phone-fast”.

Some girls found fears of being offline were replaced by feelings of relief.

The Useless Agony of Going Offline

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In his book, Levy, who also teaches tech and mindfulness courses at the University of Washington’s Information School, writes that most people who attempt this sort of experiment successfully complete it, and that they often “feel good about it.” He offers examples of individuals who noted that a day unplugged represented “one of the best days I had had in a long time,” and who “welcomed the silence and the relief of pressure.”

…Good on those folks, sincerely. But I hated spending three days without computers. And I feel no deep shame about this. I don’t think my disdain for the logged-off existence was due primarily to the fact that I’m addicted to social media, or cannot live without my phone, or have morphed into the prototypical “Distracted Man.”

Levy writes that when we choose to cast aside “the devices and apps we use regularly, it should hardly be surprising if we miss them, even long for them at times.” But what I felt was more general. I didn’t miss my smartphone, or the goofy watch I own that vibrates when I receive an e-mail and lets me send text messages by speaking into it. I didn’t miss Twitter’s little heart-shaped icons. I missed learning about new things.

During the world’s longest weekend, it became clear to me that, when I’m using my phone or surfing the Internet, I am almost always learning something. I’m using Google to find out what types of plastic bottles are the worst for human health, or determining the home town of a certain actor, or looking up some N.B.A. player’s college stats. I’m trying to find out how many people work at Tesla, or getting the address for that brunch place, or checking out how in the world Sacramento came to be the capital of California.

What I’m learning may not always be of great social value, but I’m at least gaining some new knowledge—by using devices in ways that, sure, also distract me from maintaining a singular focus on any one thing.

My social media fast

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Last week (approx. May 7-14), I stopped using social media for an entire week… Many people have given up social media and written about it — the digital equivalent of the “Why I’m Leaving New York” essay — but since I didn’t write about leaving New York, I’m going to do this instead.

I used to be very good about using my phone and social media appropriately. More than a decade of working on kottke.org taught me how to not be online when I wasn’t working (for the most part). I tried super hard not to use my phone at all around my kids and if I was out with friends, my phone stayed in my pocket.

Almost a year ago, after 13+ years in the city, I moved from lower Manhattan to rural Vermont… Social media, mostly through my phone, has been an important way for me to stay connected with friends and goings on in the wider world. But lately I’d noticed an obsessiveness, an addiction really, that I didn’t like once I became fully aware of it.

 

…Not a single person noticed that I had stopped using social media. (Not enough to tell me anyway.) Perhaps if it had been two weeks? For me, this reinforced that social media is actually not a good way to “stay connected with friends”. Social media aggregates interactions between loved ones so that you get industrialized communication rather than personal connection. No one really notices if a particular person goes missing because they’re just one interchangeable node in a network.

 

 

The Phones We Love Too Much

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We have an intimate relationship with our phones. We sleep with them, eat with them and carry them in our pockets. We check them, on average, 47 times a day — 82 times if you’re between 18 and 24 years old, according to recent data.

And we love them for good reason: They tell the weather, the time of day and the steps we’ve taken. They find us dates (and sex), entertain us with music and connect us to friends and family. They answer our questions and quell feelings of loneliness and anxiety.

But phone love can go too far — so far that it can interfere with human love — old fashioned face-to-face intimacy with that living and breathing being you call your partner, spouse, lover or significant other.

The conflict between phone love and human love is so common, it has its own lexicon. If you’re snubbing your partner in favor of your phone it’s called phubbing (phone + snubbing). If you’re snubbing a person in favor of any type of technology, it’s called technoference. A popular song by Lost Kings even asks: “Why don’t you put that [expletive] phone down?”

Be Bored, I Dare You…

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Today, in our cult of productivity, boredom is often viewed as utterly inexcusable — a sin — only committed by the lazy or unsuccessful. Yet it is a vital emotion that helps you cultivate creativity, contemplation, and stillness. It is essential for the mind to be bored.

A couple of weeks back I deleted several apps from my phone: Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, Facebook, among others, in an attempt to force myself to be bored. I’m trying to let go of the things that I would usually use to ‘fill the space.’ I want to learn to be okay with just being.

Here is the list of things I let go of to find more boredom in the everyday

Are Teenagers Replacing Drugs With Smartphones?

Excerpt from this article:

Amid an opioid epidemic, the rise of deadly synthetic drugs and the widening legalization of marijuana, a curious bright spot has emerged in the youth drug culture: American teenagers are growing less likely to try or regularly use drugs, including alcohol.

With minor fits and starts, the trend has been building for a decade, with no clear understanding as to why. Some experts theorize that falling cigarette-smoking rates are cutting into a key gateway to drugs, or that antidrug education campaigns, long a largely failed enterprise, have finally taken hold.

But researchers are starting to ponder an intriguing question: Are teenagers using drugs less in part because they are constantly stimulated and entertained by their computers and phones?