Tweetless Turkey Day

Today’s teenagers don’t know life without Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook. Not to mention Twitter, Yik Yak, Whatsgoodly, streaming videos from Netflix, and — not incidentally — using laptops, tablets and smartphones for schoolwork, in class and out. Staples High School’s BYOD (“bring your own device”) policy ensures that students are connected — to the internet, and each other — 24/7.

(That’s not an exaggeration. Some kids today sleep with their phones underneath their pillows, so they won’t miss any 3 a.m. notifications.)

Technology is wonderful. But it’s also awful. It causes stress. It fragments attention. Social media in particular raises unrealistic expectations. It prevents people from actually being present — connected personally, not wirelessly — with real friends and family members, in real time.

These are not Staples students. But they could be.

These are not Staples students. But they could be.

No one knows this more than Staples’ guidance counselors. They’re on the front lines, watching students battle with the demands of social media, along with the usual stresses of sky-high expectations in a very competitive community.

The guidance department’s Resilience Project is a way to help teenagers find balance, strength and direction. Counselors regularly share videos, stories and ideas with students, teachers and parents, offering strategies to ease anxiety.

This week, they’re doing more. The Resilience Project proposes a Thanksgiving technology break. For 24 hours — any 24 hours during the holiday — Staples students (and staff!) (parents too!) are urged to step away from all social media. Including (aaargh) texting.

(Graphic/Cameron Lynch, Carla Eichler's Beginnign Design and Tech class)

(Graphic/Cameron Lynch, Carla Eichler’s Beginnign Design and Tech class)

The technology break coincides with another Resilience Project initiative: Teachers are encouraged to not give homework over Thanksgiving weekend, and to delay long-term project due dates to later in the following week.

Without that obligation, and with family and friends nearby, the hope is that for 24 hours, Stapleites can engage — really, truly, not sporadically or half-heartedly — with other human beings.

The Resilience Project suggests that teachers and students discuss the technology break during Communication Time, a 15-minute period on Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

It’s a great idea. Give it a try.

And if you can’t go 24 hours without technology, at least don’t tweet during Thanksgiving dinner.

4 responses to “Tweetless Turkey Day

  1. Kendall Anderson

    Now if only the stores would close so everyone can spend the holiday home with family.
    Why and when did Black Friday begin starting on Thanksgiving day?

  2. Marcy Anson Fralick Staples Class of 1970

    We’re apparently behind the curve out here in Arizona, because my local school district bans the use of any cell phones, tablets, gamers, iPods or pagers during school operating hours (which includes before and after school activities). Only the school issued tablet, which has no access to social media, is permitted. If a student is caught using a personal device, it’s immediately confiscated, and the parent(s) has to come to the school’s office to retrieve it. If a student needs to call home, the teachers or staff allow them to use their phones to contact only their parents, and are supervised when doing so. Electronic devices must be stored in lockers during the day for Middle and High School, and turned off. For K-5 students, phones are given to the teacher for safe keeping during classroom hours.

  3. I actually received a reference from a younger colleague that Black Friday is an official holiday… Yes it was not a joke and it was a highly educated person….help!

    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

      That is sad, just as Boxing Day has turned from a day to celebrate employees to a day of personal shopping.