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A World Without Screens

And now for something a little different – for this week’s blog post, we thought we’d ask a different question: is there such a thing as “too much” media in our daily lives? We’ve all heard the polemics: cell phones, laptops tablet – our society is too reliant on “screens,” we need to “unplug” more, modern technology is costing us meaningful human interaction, etc. Many parents are particularly concerned about these effects on their children – interestingly enough, even those who are responsible for the technology themselves. The New York Times reported that in Silicon Valley, California, the major tech executives of companies like Google, Apple, Yahoo, and eBay actually send their children to low-tech Waldorf schools. These schools don’t use “screen” teaching tools and instead use “old-fashioned” tools such as pens and paper, knitting needles, and even mud. There are no computers or screens at all, and the school even recommends that students do not use at computers at home. Proponents of this education style suggest that it encourages creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans. At one school alone, three-quarters of the students had parents with a strong connection to the high-tech industry.

At an older age, even students themselves start to become worried about their use of technology. Contrary to assumptions that today’s generation are  all“screen addicts,” some students have started voluntarily limiting their time spent online, for example on Facebook.

An interesting growing trend is the idea of taking a “No-Screen Day” – as the name suggests, taking some time to “unplug” from technology or anything with a screen for a certain amount of time. Students have tried this and documented their experiences, ironically through blogs (yet more screen time!) As one would expect, it is a challenging experience which makes one aware of how much our lives really do revolve around technology and the use of screens. In response to reports that have shown that total contact time between parents and children has decreased by 40% in the past 25 years, some recommend instituting a No-Screen-Day for one’s family, an idea that is probably easier in theory than in practice. There is even an official No-Screen Day website that is currently under construction (again, ironic for a no-screen day to have a website!)

We’ve probably all spent some time thinking about our use of technology and our time spent “on screens” – what do you all think? Let us know!

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About Tufts CMS

The Communications & Media Studies Program of Tufts University

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