Surviving and Thriving Without Screens

Published: 
Aug 20, 2019

Source: Times of Israel

 

Camp Morasha’s new technology policy, which was introduced during this past summer season, was crafted with considerable uncertainty and hesitation. Having participated in numerous planning discussions, I will be the first to confess my own initial reluctance and doubt. To be clear, I fully recognize and appreciate the benefits of creating opportunities that allow us to disconnect from the myriad of technological outlets to which we have become attached. Nonetheless, the plan that we thoughtfully deliberated and ultimately executed, seemed overly ambitious and bold.

During this summer season, we conducted a critical experiment; one which would ultimately provide us with greater insight into our social and behavioral state of health. For seven weeks, our beautiful scenic campus functioned as a laboratory; our campers and staff, as the participating subjects. Truthfully, in recent years, we had already observed that our campers and staff could successfully manage without devices that would allow them to connect wirelessly with each other and with the world around them. And, despite the predictable mild symptoms of technology withdrawal, our staff and campers successfully rose to the challenge.

On Monday, July 1, as our campers arrived at camp, all screened devices were collected. We prepared ourselves for the initial fallout, especially when the lights went out that first night. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. Almost instantaneously, something remarkable occurred and continued throughout the weeks that followed. The participants in this grand experiment seemed to display a genuine sense of freedom. Rather than rebel, they seemed noticeably at ease, as they were suddenly released from the digital shackles that often hold us captive. They celebrated their newfound freedom by interacting with each other in ways that, not all that long ago, were considered normal human behaviors. They sat around, at times for long periods at end, and looked up and forward, rather than down and away. We even witnessed the resurrection of “initial baseball,” a timeless classic, all but lost in today’s world. But most importantly, they looked at each other. Not a passing glance here and there; they really looked at each other. They spoke with one another and interacted with nature and with the world around them, without the constant distraction of chirps, buzzes, beeps, and the powerful allure of those glaring screens that so often hijack our attention.

Were there moments throughout the summer when they longed for their devices? Of course there were. Were there occasional requests to grant them temporary access to their screens? Most definitely. And that should come as a shock to no one. But what did surprise many was the ease and the degree to which this initiative succeeded. Yesterday, as our children boarded the buses and prepared to go back home, we returned their devices to them. For now, this experiment has come to an end. But for a fleeting moment, our campers have given us reason to pause and consider, with greater reflection, the world in which they are being raised and the choices that we, as their parents, are constantly making. If I have learned anything over the past seven weeks it is that our children crave so deeply for direct contact and for genuine connection with each other, with the world around them, and with themselves.

Read the entire post at Times of Israel Blog.
 

Updated: Sep. 05, 2019
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