Enjoying a Tech Time Out

Enjoying a Tech Time Out
Enjoying a Tech Time Out

The Middle Schoolers detached from their screens for a day.

This generation’s Middle Schoolers have spent a substantial portion of their lives looking at screens—including a year of school over Zoom during the pandemic. Unfortunately, new studies show that too much screen time can affect kids’ language and problem-solving skills and contribute to stress and anxiety. What’s more, creative play away from screens can bolster intellectual development and mental health.

It was in that spirit that this April, the Middle School marked Earth Day with a special directive for both students and teachers: Leave tablets and laptops at home. Scheduling the event on Earth Day reminded students that using less tech can, even in small ways, reduce energy use—and it might even mean finding more teen and tween human energy out in nature. 

The day dovetailed nicely with messages from groups like the Middle School’s Equity, Justice, and Community Committee and the cross-divisional Mental Health Task Force, which encourage intentional breaks from social media. Perhaps the real surprise is that the idea for a Device-Free Day came from the Middle School Tech Committee.

“Though I am always using technology to enhance learning with students, I acknowledge that balanced and responsible use is an essential technology skill at the Middle School,” says Nate Green, the Middle School’s academic technology coordinator. “Device Free Day gave us a good chance to evaluate how we are using technology and the trade-offs that come from that use of technology. It gave us a new perspective that will help us cultivate healthy habits.”

And though the students were pleased to return their devices the next day, the moment was still instructive. “You never know how much you use it until you don’t have it,” said one 7th grader at an off-the-record “Download” about the day. “There was a stronger sense of community,” added a 6th grader. And, as a 5th grader noted, at least one notable phenomenon occurred: “People were literally touching grass.”

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