Posted in Community, General, Malletts Bay School, Programs

Could You Manage Tech-Free Fun for a Week?

If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger.
—Frank Lloyd Wright

Malletts Bay School’s Principal Julie Benay has issued an intriguing challenge to her students … and it is perhaps one that the rest of us should try, as well.

Ms. Benay has challenged her students to carefully examine their time spent with “screen-based entertainment.” While the challenge excludes e-books and time spent on a computer for academic purposes, Ms. Benay’s objective is to encourage the Ospreys to think about time management … and about the countless ways they can spend their free time without the electronic devices that are so prevalent today.

“MBS Unplugged” comes on the heels of Screen-Free Week (formerly “TV Turn-Off”), which is an initiative devised by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. While technology is very useful in countless ways, it is often argued that widespread, indiscriminate use—particularly for entertainment—serves to alienate us from the real world. Because of the alarming statistics about the amount of time the average person spends in electronic realms—be they televisions, video games, cell phones, social networks, tablets, or the like—entire industries devoted to “digital detoxification” have sprung to life. Self-help strategists offer their advice, vacation resorts offer “technology-free” getaways, and a slew of organizations all over the country and around the world host similar “tech-free” or “unplugged” challenges. The optimal balance with technology use is different for everyone, and it begins with awareness of one’s own tech use habits. This awareness is part of the motivation behind Ms. Benay’s challenge.

MBS Unplugged has been developed to include three levels of participation—varying degrees to which students challenge themselves to cut out screen entertainment for five consecutive weekdays—and the use of a time-tracking log is part of the strategy. (Prizes are also part of the strategy.)

It will be really interesting to learn about the Ospreys’ experiences as a result of this challenge. Perhaps the best prize of all will be the discovery of a love for unplugged entertainment. Gardening? Nature walks? Bicycling?

The best part? You don’t have to be an Osprey to try it out. Food for thought.

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