First of all, consider that a majority of kids and teens spend about 75% of their waking lives attached to a screen of some sort. Then consider these startling research facts gathered by the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA). This study asked 1,000 students in ten countries on five continents to quit using technology and media for just ONE day. When that day was over, the researchers asked the students what happened and how they felt, and here’s what they said:
Students in the study repeatedly used the term ‘addiction’ when describing their dependence on media. One student from the USA noted: “I was itching, like a crackhead, because I could not use my phone,” while another student from Argentina said, “Sometimes I felt ‘dead,‘” and a student from Slovakia noted, “I felt sad, lonely and depressed.”
A vast majority of students failed to unplug for even one day, admitting to the researchers that they gave in to tech before 24 hours had passed.
Students reported that media, and especially their mobile phones, were an extension of themselves.
Most students said they felt lost, alone and excessively lonely when their screens were taken from them.
Students had zero ideas about how to fill up their empty hours without media and screens which resulted in many of the students telling the researchers how desperately bored they were during their one unplugged day. Most students noted that without tech, it took just a few hours, only a half an hour, only fifteen minutes, or even less before they ran out of ideas of what to do with themselves. One youth from China stated, “After 15 minutes without using media, my sole feeling about this can be expressed in one word: boring.”
Students said that their phones offered connection, security and comfort to an excess, as one U.S. youth noted, “My phone is my only source of comfort.”
Tech is an escape mechanism more so than an enjoyment. Most students said they don’t watch regular television shows, but simply use TV to feel like there’s another presence in the house or will look for a show, just to have something to watch. In fact, the most frequently used words that youth used to describe their TV use were ‘routine,’ ‘habit,’ and ‘instinctively.’
Students realized how distracted they’d been while staring at screens. One student in Mexico said, “I interacted with my parents more than the usual. I fully heard what they said to me without being distracted with my BlackBerry.” Another student from the U.S. noted, “I’ve lived with the same people for three years now and I think that this is one of the best days we’ve spent with together. I was able to really see them, without any distractions, and we were able to revert to simple pleasures.”