Adults are not the only ones spending a lot of their time online. Young people are profoundly affected by online addiction, spending hours of their lives texting, snapping and sharing pictures, and gaming online. The Tech Time Academic Challenge was created to bring attention to how Internet-connected devices and technology can be harmful, contributing to social deficits, poor mental health, and anxiety.

Time To Switch The Off Button On and Reconnect to the Real

The real world is not without its challenges. Growing adolescents can take advantage of living out their dreams and ideas in the virtual world, whether playing online games or creating and living out a faux persona on social media.

Today’s generation of teens are the first to have grown up with the internet, and social connections offline are still very much continued online. Youth find a lot of freedom on social media platforms and staying connected to their smartphone. They can talk to friends, share secrets, gossip, and feel uninhibited to be who they want to be. However, this doesn’t come without a cost.

A generation of students and their family are no longer making eye contact when having conversations, or are oblivious to others at meal times. Social skills are suffering, kids are becoming more sleep deprived, and anxiety over FOMO is increasing in society.

Why A Challenge to Unplug from Tech Created?

An Academic Challenge to students to unplug from technology and electronics had to happen. Over time, young people have shown increasingly disturbing behaviors because of overconnectivity to tech. Youth victimize their peers via online bullying, and the victims of bullying give in to self-harm or even suicide.

Many young people may have a hard time getting enough sleep as it is, because of their busy schedules at school, and homework load. Thanks to spending tons of time chatting with friends online social media, and texting, teens are missing out on enough hours of sleep.

So many youths are so accustomed to spending time on their smartphones and other electronic devices, they have lost touch with other forms of entertainment, and are finding it hard to connect face-to-face with others. An inability to read into other’s emotions or be able to communicate efficiently without needing to text or tweet, may hamper success for young people in the workplace.

Foresters Financial has been in the business of helping families plan their financial life for over a hundred years. Deeply committed to serving families in the United States, Canada, and the UK, they developed the Tech Time Academic Challenge for youth.

It was alarming seeing how addicted youth were becoming to continually being online. Some of the behaviors and activities that over-connected kids were suffering were disruptive to quality of life. Even more distressing, students were making connecting nearly 24/7 online to their peers, apps, and social platforms, more of a priority than their health, social skills, and academic performance.

Humans are social creatures, and the disruption and harmful side-effects showed by over-connectedness to technology, has led to increasing disconnect between families. The Tech Time Academic Challenge was created to help both children and their parents communicate more face-to-face and be more involved in daily activities.

The primary focus is to get young people and their families to unplug from all tech for three whole days. Beyond meeting this challenge, students are encouraged to make an effort to disconnect from tech for at least an hour daily.

Those who participate are encouraged to non-electronic necessary activities. Students and their families can enjoy activities such as:

  • Go camping or take a hike in nature.
  • Spend time reading the same book, and discuss it afterward.
  • Cook a meal together as a family.
  • Check out a local concert.
  • Visit the local library.
  • Ride bikes outside.

The possibilities are pretty endless, once you unplug from tech, put down the smartphone, and give your imagination a chance. Human beings still managed to have lived before the advent of the internet, and many people around the world manage to live without any tech at all.

Tech a Toll on Mental Health, Self-Esteem, and Body Image

Trolls are everywhere online. And thanks to the ability to be anonymous online, or take advantage of the wealth of information users have about themselves; young people can be exceptionally mean.

Sometimes the ugliness of online bullying, crude and disturbing comments and content, can drive youth to self-harm, develop eating disorders, lose sleep, and suffer anxiety.

In the worse cases where the internet exists as a toxic place for young people, some have ultimately decided to end their lives.

When scrolling non-stop feeds of picture-perfect bodies, people showing off curated versions of themselves, or posting mean or dehumanizing content online, it can be hard for young people to deal. Even though many youths feel a need to connect online to catch up with friends, it can be stressful and anxiety-inducing to keep up with the pack.

Feeling a need to keep track of who is posting on Facebook continually, or making a snappy tweet on Twitter, takes away precious time to focus on the people in your life. When it all becomes a little too much to handle, taking a break from answering texts, or being updated on friend’s online activities needs to come to a stop.

Sleep Can Wait When You’re a Slave to the Smartphone

Young people especially need to get enough hours of sleep every night, to properly function. Kids who miss out on enough sleep may have a harder time focusing, may always be late for class, or may have poorer grades.

Students need to make sure to minimize or cut out screen time with the smartphone before bed. Sleeping with a smartphone, or staying up all night to play online games with friends can be harmful to adolescent’s’ health.

Some youth may resort to drinking sodas, energy drinks, or even taking pills to make up for lost sleep. Decision-making skills can take a blow when a teen doesn’t get enough sleep.

According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, youth ages 13 to 18 years old need to get about 9 to 9.5 hours of sleep. Most teenagers get an average of 7 to 7.25 hours of sleep.

Sleep deprivation can lead to teens doing some of the following:

  • Feeling more angry, frustrated, or irritable.
  • Inclined to engage in risky behaviors such as trying illegal substances, or driving too fast.
  • Reduced attention span and difficulty with memory and reaction.
  • Prone to falling asleep in class.

Taking a Tech Time Out and getting away from attention-seeking electronics can help teens reset their circadian rhythm. If a student can, it is good to get away to the outdoors, away from light pollution, and with No Technology.

When a human being spends time in more natural surroundings, their internal clock resets itself. Occasionally everyone needs a break from the pull of technology’s siren song so that they can get enough sleep at night.

How Can Youth Spend Their Time During Tech Time Challenge?

The Tech Time Academic Challenge was created to allow students to break away from technology, and reconnect to their ability to communicate more traditionally. When sending a text, the ability to convey emotion, or read into subtlety is limited, and can lead to more miscommunication.

Due to the increased use of technology, many young people and adults alike are displaying difficulties when it comes to openly communicating with others, making eye contact, and having more empathy. As a strange price to pay for being plugged in, human beings have seemingly become more out of touch, cold, and mechanical at times.

The Tech Time Challenge is a way for youth to rediscover that there is indeed more to life than being online. Young people are encouraged to get outdoors and become physically active, enjoy natural surroundings, and be in the company of others without tech.

To ensure that the technological detox is a mindful practice, young people who participate are motivated to write about their experiences. And it is even better, if the students who can commit to living with No Technology for up to three whole days, can write about their experiences without the use of a smartphone or computer.

Putting Tech into Perspective and Finding Balance

Although technology is a great way to keep in touch with friends, family, and the latest news, at times everyone needs to pull the plug. Technology can be very addictive. And it can be challenging not staying up to date with social media feeds, uploading pics, or texting.

Keeping genuine and meaningful social connections are essential for maintaining healthy family bonds, and strong friendships. Taking time out to connect with others via conversation, exercising outdoors, or sharing a meal, helps sharpen interpersonal skills.

Technology is helpful for quickly sharing information, and it is often an inescapable part of modern-day life. However, nothing quite equates to one-on-one human interaction without being distracted or feeling ignored because of a smartphone’s presence.

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