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Everywhere we go, teens and adults alike are looking down with their heads in their phones. In fact, “half of American teens have self reported they’re ‘feeling addicted’ to their devices1.”
“At school, people are quieter,” confides Olivia, an 18-year-old high school senior2.
American Offline, a new digital wellness initiative, recognizes tech usage challenges exist for everyone, not just teens. However, they are focusing on changing the world by inspiring a new wave of leaders.
57% more teens were sleep deprived in 2015 than in 1991. In just the three years between 2012 and 2015, 22% more teens failed to get seven hours of sleep2.
To combat growing technology attachment challenges, America Offline is designing immersive events where participants experience the power of connecting with peers offline and in nature. Through offline overnight weekend events and shorter workshops, America Offline is utilizing experiential education methods and design challenge learning to generate memorable and meaningful conversations which inspire a new way of interacting with technology.
“We are immersing our teen and adult participants in a visceral offline experience which exposes them to new ways of thinking, tech-life balance tools and enriching offline hobbies which promote more human connection and aliveness,” says America Offline Founder, David Klein. “Today America Offline is happy to release the 3 approaches and specific strategies to implement right now in order to reduce technology dependency for you and your family.”
The average time spent on smartphones AND tablets is 261 minutes a day (4hrs 33mins).3
89% of parents blame themselves and caregivers for the responsibility of a child’s phone use.3
The CDC says one in five children ages 3 through 17 — about 15 million — have a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral disorder in a given year. But only 20 percent of them get diagnosed or receive care4
50% of American teens self report they “feel addicted” to their devices5 and the average teen consumes 9 hours of media per day8; often more time than they spend sleeping9.
Furthermore, there is now a large body of research demonstrating increasing technology usage is causing a decline in mental health. In 2016, every indicator of poor mental health reached an all time high, with anxiety, depression and suicide rates going through the roof2.
Chances are, that if one were to return to the neighborhood they grew up in, they wouldn’t find kids playing in the streets like they used to. Since the iPhone was released in 2007 the amount of time kids spent with friends has plummeted to all time lows. Video games, social media, increasing pressure to perform in school and overbooking our kids with full schedule of activities are all contributing to a world where kids are no longer acting like kids.
% of kids who get together with friends every day2
America Offline believes that while adults have their own device issues to address, in order to change the world, they must focus on the next generation.
GameChangers is here to change all that.
Through recent retreats and trainings, Americal Offline has developed a multi-pronged approach to technology mindfulness training that supports the mood and lifestyle of teens, and reframes mindful technology use for everyone.
“Being …with all my new friends and buddies, I definitely enjoyed not having to constantly look at my phone – Alex 14
“…being stress free and having fun outside!” – Jacob 14
“…putting myself in a good position for the day… it made me think more about staying away from technology and being more present with myself. ” – Gabe 14
Studies were carried out by University of Pennsylvania.6
As the researchers expected, people who limited their social media use to 30 minutes felt significantly better after the three-week period, reporting reduced depression and loneliness, especially those who came into the study with higher levels of depression. Interestingly, both groups reported less FOMO (fear of missing out) and less anxiety in the end, which the team suggests may just be the result of increased self-monitoring.
Mark Cuban, business mogul and co-owner of the Dallas Mavericks, allowed his kids maximum two hours of Netflix, but only after every hour of reading.
Below are a few proactive methods America Offline recommends for creating more tech-life balance, for yourself and your family.
Meditation and mindfulness is proven to increase focus. Increased focus will improve grades and learning retention. While its true that many may struggle to integrate a meditation practice into their lives, there are a variety of mindfulness based techniques which can be implemented in order to promote efficient, deep work.
Things to try:
America Offfline acknowledges it is very easy to get stuck in the rat race of life; especially here in America where we tend to focus so much on achievement and high performance, we often forget to take time for things in our lives which make us feel alive. Unfortunately this way of thinking has rubbed off on the youth and teens of today; while it’s great that kids of today are often booked up around the clock with extracurricular activities, the focus on getting straight A’s and participating in various extracurriculars sometimes impedes on kids’ ability to just be a kid – to play pretend and run around outside unsupervised. Finding more balance offers space from work/schooling and can actually improve the quality of work and life in general.
Things to try:
America Offline knows that the environment at home and the people we spend time with has the biggest impact on our behavior. We often default to the behavior of those around us. Many parents hoping to limit their children’s screen time are hooked to their devices themselves; if parents want family members to integrate technology in a healthier way, it starts with adults modeling healthier interactions. While America Offline overnight experiences for teens and adults expose their participants to the beauty of being offline, their follow up program and offline family habit builder (GameChangers Plus), is provided to participants as a gamified toolkit to improve offline family connection at home.
Things to try
America Offline organizes immersive offline experiences and offers private consultations for parents, families and organizations. Visit their launch fundraiser today to see the discounted rewards that are available to Thrive supporters.
This content is informational and educational, and it does not replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a health professional. We encourage you to speak with your health-care provider about your individual needs, or visit NAMI for more information.
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