‘Unplugged’ event has better solution

With the rise of cellphone usage among teenagers, many studies have shown that one’s mental capabilities and health are impeded by excessive amounts of social media and technology exposure. 

To bring awareness to this fact and help students learn more about their own reliance on their phones, Calculus AB and BC and Math HL classes at Diamond Bar High School will have their “Unplugged” event on Feb. 24 in which students are asked to forego using their phones for the whole day. However, the way this event is conducted wastes a valuable opportunity to teach students about healthier phone usage.

As it stands, students are taught about the damaging effects of social media, phone usage and technology in general in the days leading up to the “Unplugged” event. Students are shown statistics that demonstrate that phone usage can harm one’s posture and eyesight. However, the key problems—attention span, memory and anxiety, among several others—are related more to social media and other applications, not the device itself. This means that when students stop using their phones for the day, the key issue of social media usage goes unaddressed.

There are some benefits to not using one’s phone for a day, though. For one, students will be able to see how much they rely on their phones during the downtime. As a result, they will spend more time thinking about how to fill that space with activities other than mindlessly swiping away on their phones. For the most part, though, the benefits stop there. Instead of this activity, which hardly addresses the problems presented in class, teachers should try a different approach to solve the crux of the problem: social media addiction.

In reality, it would be much more realistic and have many more lasting benefits if students were taught how to use social media wisely. For example, teachers could instruct students to limit  their social media usage to an hour less than they normally do every day, at least for a week. Just like going on a diet, it is important that people are eased into changes if they wish to stick to them for a long period of time. 

By teaching students in this way, teachers will be able to create lasting good habits in their students that could stay with them past the assignment and even high school. Especially because, as it stands, going from glued to their phones to not using them at all is so difficult a change for many high schoolers that it causes many to fake the assignment, pretending to have gone phone-less rather than write a paper explaining why they chose to opt-out.

There are other flaws to the current “unplugged” method, too. Teachers are quick to demonize phones, objects that teenagers are clearly reliant on, which creates an initial opposition from the students.

If teachers were to recognize and point out that it is social media’s addictive qualities that are attracting students and taking advantage of their impressionability rather than blaming students for liking their phones too much, they would likely receive a much more positive response from students. In fact, some teachers have gotten into arguments with students who mistakenly felt attacked by the way the lesson was presented.

However, as it stands, it isn’t likely that teachers are going to change how they present “Unplugged,” nor how they conduct the actual event because, in the end, it’s easier for everyone to give up their phones for just one day than to change how they use them forever.