Tech Timeout Academic Challenge kit helps educators teach students about their dependence on technology
TORONTO, Jan. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ - What happens when a group of average teenagers go from sending 3,700 texts per month to zero, overnight?1 Feelings of isolation, panic, symptoms of withdrawal? Or do they come to a realization that there is a whole other world beyond the virtual one they inhabit? Foresters™, an international life insurance provider committed to family well-being, launched today the Tech Timeout Academic Challenge, which encourages middle and secondary school students to disconnect from technology for a short period of time. It is an opportunity to discuss their experiences going "tech-free" and with it they will hopefully gain a new perspective on their online interactions.
Issaquah High School near Seattle, Washington, is involving its student body in the program starting today. At Issaquah High, more than 2,000 teenagers roam the halls every day, playing with their Smartphones, tablets and MP3 players. The administration is enthusiastic about the program's potential and the lessons the students will learn as a result. Parents of participating students will be given a family kit that they can use to help their kids succeed, an important consideration since surveys have revealed that 38% of parents say that mobile devices have a negative effect on their children's social skills2 and on average, 8 - 18-year-olds are connected to some form of electronic media for 8 - 12 hours per day.3
"Most families today can relate to the issue of over-connectedness," says Kasia Czarski, senior vice president and chief membership and marketing officer, Foresters. "As a fraternal organization, Foresters values the importance of social connections and views social isolation as an important issue for families. When we saw that technology was having a negative impact on family well-being, we felt we could play a role to help. We believe that a program aimed at the younger generation - many of whom don't know a world without technology - is an incredibly effective way to create change and help improve family well-being."
Foresters launched the Tech Timeout Academic Challenge to address a growing concern about young people's reliance on digital devices for communication and the amount of time they spend interacting with people on social media versus in face-to-face relationships. To create the program, Foresters collaborated with Michael Stusser and Marty Riemer, award-winning filmmakers and founders of Twisted Scholar. In 2012, Stusser experimented with his own "digital blackout" and used the lessons learned to create a program specifically directed towards the segment of society most likely to be connected to digital devices - young people.
"We're not asking anyone to give up all of their electronic devices and live tech-free forever," says Riemer. "We know how important technology is to our society, but there's a big difference between using it and overusing it. Too much technology can foster social isolation and interrupt vital face-to-face communication. By taking the Tech Timeout Academic Challenge we want kids to realize how important it is to unplug for a while before this dependence on devices carries over into their adult lives."
The hope is that participating students will walk away from the Tech Timeout Academic Challenge with a better understanding of their dependence on technology and a desire to spend less time on their devices and more time in face-to-face interactions with family and friends. Foresters and Twisted Scholar are encouraging schools across North America to participate by offering information and distributing free kits to the first 1,000 interested schools on TechTimeout.com. The kits will provide teachers with the tools necessary to organize a challenge at their school.
For more information about the Tech Timeout Academic Challenge or to sign up, please visit: http://techtimeout.com/AcademicChallenge/
Foresters™ is a life insurance provider with a difference. The fraternal benefit society, founded in 1874, supports family well-being through quality products, unique member benefits and inspiring community activities. Foresters shares its financial strength with over one million members in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit foresters.com.
Foresters™ is the trade name and a trademark of The Independent Order of Foresters, a fraternal benefit society, 789 Don Mills Road, Toronto, Canada M3C 1T9; its subsidiaries are licensed to use this mark.
About Twisted Scholar
Twisted Scholar is an innovative Seattle-based production company, creating fun and visually interesting educational products solidly researched sensitive and most of all effective.
Twisted Scholar's team has a combined 90 years experience in education and video, audio and web production. Their staff includes Master Teachers, an Emmy Award-winning writer for "Bill Nye the Science Guy," veteran producers of national television and radio programs, and highly accomplished technicians in design and development.
1 According to a Nielsen Company study 2011 mobile phone users age 13 to 17 send and receive 3705 texts per month.
2 Source: Ellen Wartella, PhD, et al. "Parenting In the Age of Digital Technology: A National Survey", Northwestern University. (2013) Available from: http://web5.soc.northwestern.edu/cmhd/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Parenting-Report_FINAL.pdf#sthash.YeYj6gxl.dpuf
3 Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Study, Generation M²: Media in the Lives of 8-18-Year-Olds