Surviving or thriving without technology this weekend? Reconnect by disconnecting.

 

Could your children survive 24 hours without their iPhones or checking Facebook? Could you live a day without email and the Internet? 

Sundown tonight marks the start of the “National Day of Unplugging,” a day where many organizations are calling on individuals to power down and temporarily halt the constant information deluge that, experts say, raises our stress levels, interferes with sleep and rewires the way we think, learn, feel and interact with others. 

Linda Stone, the former Apple executive and technology trend watcher, coined the term “email apnea,” which she defines as the temporary absence or suspension of breathing that happens when we open and respond to email. She argues that the physical changes our bodies undergo while online potentially raise stress levels and create other biological consequences.

As we continue to promote efforts to restore health and balance in students’ lives, we’re calling on everyone in the “Race to Nowhere” community to join us in unplugging this weekend and take a brief reprieve from technology. As adults, it's up to us to set the example. If you have thoughts on the role of technology in our lives and its impact on our children and their education, leave your thoughts on our discussion board here.

Since medical professionals and pediatricians are often the first to witness the detrimental impact of our over-scheduled, always-on culture, we screened “Race to Nowhere” to physicians across the country earlier this month. Over 1,000 medical professionals took part and the consensus became clear: in order for our students to succeed, we need to create an environment and culture that prioritizes health and happiness and recognizes the positive correlation between health and happiness and achievement.

“Modern life presents several challenges,” a Southern California pediatrician wrote to us. “Kids are losing sleep because they are staying up late, plugging into games and social media. We need our kids to have stimulating, safe retreats where they can unplug and tackle problems that require concentration and development of problem-solving skills,” the doctor said. 

William Powers, author of Hamlet’s Blackberry would agree. He warns about the intellectual and emotional consequences of our relentless digital lives.

The “conundrum of connectedness” – constantly being flooded with new information – denies us time to stop and make sense of all this information, “to do something new, creative with it; enjoy it,” Powers said in a 2010 interview with National Public Radio. 

“If we’re constantly toggling between people on Facebook and texts and all these new ways of connecting all day long, and we never have a sustained connection, it’s not really connectedness,” he said. “It’s the opposite of connectedness.”

In so many ways, "unplugging" this weekend is actually about reconnecting; we hope you'll join us and make a choice to restore and enrich the true connections in your life.