MEDFORD (CBS) — Sixth graders at the Mcglynn Middle School in Medford admit smartphones are a big part of life.

“A lot of people think their whole entire life revolves around this little thing that you can put in your pocket,” student Caroline Gomez McDonald said.

Student Kaitlyn Alves added, “Some people find it hard to be away from their phone and not get to see what’s happening.”

Distractions, pressure and wasted time are all things that forced Phillips Andover senior Juliet Gildehaus to make a change. “I have friends and we were saying, ‘why can’t we get off social media? Why are we sitting at dinner on Friday night and, instead of talking to each other, looking at our phones?'”

It’s why the 18-year-old partnered with Susan Reynolds, a former teacher and social entrepreneur. The two created Look Up.Live, a new program in which the kids themselves challenge each other to get a better life-technology balance.

“I think it’s absolutely critical that we ask them, and it was sort of like why haven’t we asked them sooner?” Reynolds said. She brought the challenge to Mcglynn Middle School.

“We want to surround them with information to help them achieve a better balance in this age of digital distraction,” Principal Nick Tucci said.

Look Up.Live basically challenges the kids to take breaks, but on their terms with small, real goals as a group.

“The students relate with each other, that’s the biggest part. So if they say that they are doing it, other students will be interested in doing it,” said school adviser Meghan Olsen.

We asked the students, and they agreed that it works.

“Sometimes I can be addicted to my phone, so I think the Look Up challenge really helped me,” said Lilah Armit.

Whether it’s challenging yourself to get off for an hour or a day, it is up to the student.

“I have more time to focus on things that matter more than just social media and Netflix and YouTube,” said student Allie Hopper.

Comments
  1. I like the use of the phrase LookUp – and want to mention there is a bill to help reduce screen time in schools in Massachusetts that needs support: S. 294. There are also bills to protect school privacy: H 588 and S.295. These measures are also needed for institutional protections. Further, there are bills designed to reduce wireless exposures, which is a problem that needs recognition, especially with so many reputable studies showing harm. Please see Last Tree Laws for more information, including on legislation.

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