Technology has become an integral part of the majority of young people’s lives. So when 200 teenagers gave up technology for a week, it wasn’t going to be an easy ride.
The Studio academy in Liverpool was one of the schools taking part in the “Reconnect Project”, which hoped to encourage youths to be creators rather than passive users of technology, and reconnect with people offline.
The students had to promise to stay away from game consoles and social media, and had their phones confiscated for the duration.
Teachers, meanwhile, had to rely on offline materials to teach; a challenge made even more difficult as The Studio specialises in digital technology.
Many of the students at the school, however, embraced the challenge.
“I think I’ll be more social with my family,” said Abbey Laird at the start of the experiment last week. “Usually when I’m home I just go upstairs, put my headphones in and ignore what’s going on.”
Isabelle Preston said she was looking forward to having more time to “actually talk with my friends and not just discuss something I’ve found on Facebook”.
“I want to talk about something more meaningful.”
The teens handing over their mobile phones
Some of the pupils did express concerns about having to give up technology.
“We’re so used to it being there for us so it’s going to be hard. Everywhere you look in this school there’s technology – it feels more like a workplace,” said Kajetan Dwidowicz. “I spend a lot of time in my room on technology because it’s a getaway from problems I have in school and at home.”
So, what happened after one week of no tech?
“The first day was horrible,” says Amy Doyle. “No social media, nothing to do. But it got easier as the week went on. I’ve started speaking to my mum more, reading more and going to sleep instead of staying up all hours.
“The hardest thing was sitting around people while they’re on their phones and trying to speak to them but they don’t look up. It’s exasperating trying to hold a conversation and having them not listen to you. Now I know how it felt for people when I did that to them.”