A group of students at New York’s Adelphi University recently got a taste of smartphone-free life. As part of a course in technology addiction, titled “Life Unplugged,” students were asked to give up their phones for seven days – the devices were stored by college security in sealed plastic bags to make sure nobody could give in to temptation.
Although the students had made emergency contact arrangements and were allowed access to computers during the period, they were nervous about giving up their smartphones. “This is going to test how brave I am,” commented Melonie Klein. “My hands are shaking right now,” another student joked.
One week later, the students’ perspective on technology had changed. “Everything is perfect right now. I’m having a lot better relationships … it’s a stress-free environment, no pressure about social media,” Jacob Dannenberg said.
“I’m nervous because I have it in my hands all the time every second of the day and have everything at my fingertips all the time,” Ashley Castillero said when handing her device in, but at the end of the week, she had decided to change her habits. “My screen time is definitely going to go down, and I’m going start to appreciate my surroundings more because usually I’m looking at my screen all the time.”
Concern about the amount of time students spend on their phones isn’t limited to the U.S. One city in the Southeast Asian country of Indonesia is trying to sure kids’ smartphone “addiction” by giving them … baby chickens. The city of Bandung has given out a dozen chicks to elementary and junior high school students. Mayor Oded Muhammad Danial hopes the program will distract kids from their devices and prompt them to spend more time on other hobbies.
“We are studying this. There will be a program where children will be given chicks to raise. This is the breakthrough,” said the mayor. “This is so that children will be preoccupied, and that they won’t be too focused on their gadgets. We will give them free range chicks.” If the trial run is successful, 2,000 kids in the area will get their own chicks. Those who raise the largest chickens will be rewarded with prize bicycles.
Mother Yayah Ratnasari liked the idea, saying, “It’s more beneficial for them to take care of chicks than play with smartphones.” Her teenage son, Rabil, disagreed. “It’s more interesting playing with a smartphone,” he said.
What would you rather have – a smartphone or a baby bird?