Teachers and pupils at Adcote School in Little Ness experienced a 48-hour digital detox as the plug was pulled on technology throughout the school.
Lessons switched to good, old-fashioned ‘chalk and talk’, with no access to Powerpoint, internet or projectors, and there were screams of anguish as pupils realised their Facebook feeds were off limits.
But the puzzlement was short-lived and staff and pupils did themselves proud, throwing themselves into ‘real world’ activities with great enthusiasm.
Head of Enrichment, Chris Farmer, came up with the idea of a whole school detox because of concerns regarding Facebook’s role in the proliferation of fake news.
He said: “Fake news is easy to distribute at no cost and it has led to audiences that believe it. Recent statistics indicate that 83 per cent of Facebook users believe fake news stories.
“There is also the issue that users participate in creating fake news, not just consuming it. No-one puts up on Facebook that they’ve had a miserable day – it’s a way of propagating lies.
“Also, as I told the girls in assembly, no-one really has 300 friends. They’re not real friends – someone who will give you a hug, will listen to you and trust you and doesn’t want anything in return. That’s not a Facebook friend.
“I hope that by switching off, girls will enjoy more time with real friends. I hope they will realise that they have more time to do stuff that is really important, not just going on YouTube and watching a puppy run into a glass window – again.”
Normally, girls are allowed to check phones in their ‘private time’ but during the detox, flat screens were totally forbidden, but the WiFi was switched off all day on Thursday and Friday during the school day.
“By the end of the first day, they really had to think about it,” Mr Farmer said. “Hopefully, it will change their behaviour ongoing, now they realise they can survive without it.”
YEAR 12 ‘detoxee’ and a boarder at Adcote School, Sabbu Pun, gives her impression of the experience:
“We were met at the bottom of the stairs by our matron holding a clipboard and an empty plastic container next to her. We grudgingly bade farewell to their technologies and readied ourselves for seven hours without WiFi.
“At first, we lost track of time and would walk into the common room checking the clock every few minutes. Notices from teachers were handwritten on the whiteboards. It felt like being in Junior School again.
“The feeling of abandonment from our phones left us slightly bewildered at first. However, we sought comfort by actual human connection, not WiFi connection, which ultimately made us realise the important rule that nothing can replace simple face-to-face interaction. It’s totally crazy how just two days can remind you of the necessity of our most natural, instinctive ability to communicate.
“We played traditional games in the common room, such as the infamous ‘never have I ever’ game. Sitting on the sofas facing each other, eight of us revealed embarrassing confessions. We laughed our way through lunchtime and successfully protested against Mr Phillips using his computer to register us; it seemed we had become detox devotees.
“Overall, Mr Farmer’s proposition left us with a valuable experience that bonded my form closer together; I’m sure another detox later on the year might even be welcomed.”