Tech-Free Schools, at least one week a term

Tech-Free Weeks for Schools: We live in an increasingly technologically mediated society. This is discouraging people from physically being with other people, from going out, from walking, from reading books, from using or even trusting their natural perceptions, from experiencing their immediate surroundings. Technology floods us with information and images that do not allow us to think or feel for ourselves. It has captured our personal reality and is covertly and overtly manipulating our behaviour. It is obvious to me that, in western society, technology is the god most people love to worship. Technology demands enslavement and more technology. The punishment for resistance is exclusion, it is a jealous and vindictive god.

Tech Free Schools

Tech-Free Schools

Human flourishing is not born of technology, quite the opposite. Rather it is born in the nest of truth, goodness and compassion. It is from this nest that we fly to freedom.

We should seek to be informed when we consent to consume. Particularly so in a world that is driven by greed, a distinct lack of morals and a lust for power. This applies across all matters, from health to food to technology, from ideologies to entertainment. We should ask ourselves: Who profits? Who benefits from this? Is it is physically, emotionally or mentally harmful? Will it disrupt my personal relationships? Do I need it?

We ignore, worse, we do not want to know of, any impact a product or service may have on ourselves, our families or our community. We like to be gullible and stupidly trusting when it comes to our craving for stuff. Especially so, when marketers deliberately appeal to our hedonic tendencies.

Educators of children have a duty of care towards their young students. Parents have an obvious duty of care, and they also have a duty to protect their children from mental, emotional and physical harm. Another duty parents have is to provide for their children and bring them up to become healthy, capable adults who look to a future world where the spirit of all that is good, reigns supreme.

Parents would be well advised to consider the impact that technology has on their child’s well-being. A few have. The vast majority have not. This is not right. There is a fair amount of harmful technology being used by and at kids. For example, excessive screen time may lead to obesity, inadequate sleep schedules and insufficient sleep, behaviour problems, delays in language and social skills development, violence, attention problems, less time learning. Any of this sound familiar?

Tech Free Schools

Tech-Free Schools

In an ideal world national or supranational regulators would have conducted  proper research on the impact of tech products on people and society, before allowing them into the marketplace. We trust, that they are not harmful. That trust may be misplaced, not least of all because in most cases standards are set by the very industry that is being regulated.

Another example is WiFi and smartphone radiation. The National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services conducted a ten year study that was concluded in 2018, called Cell Phone Radio Frequency Radiation. I will just say that the ‘What did the studies find?’ section makes for grim reading. There are also many studies showing that the non-ionising radiation from WiFi equipment should give us cause for concern.  Parents and educators should be doing their own research. They should also consider that they are role models for the children in their care.

Mothers in our western society are carrying a very heavy burden indeed. They are the educators of last resort, the 24/7 care givers, the food providers, the house keepers and the home makers whilst working full or part time, and more. Young children are growing up in a society that glorifies entitlement, demanding constant attention whilst behaving badly. Parents need a break and nowadays this translates into putting kids in front of a smart phone, tablet or TV screen, or online gaming for older kids. This exposure scrambles the children’s impressionable minds. Parents will tell you that it is a vicious cycle, as after the screen time the kids behave worse. Mothers and fathers despair as they fight this losing battle. This is a significant threat to family life.

There is something very wrong going on and we need to break the downward spiral of addiction to technology. One idea is for educational establishments, such as primary, middle and senior schools, to introduce one tech-free week a term. I would urge school management to look into this. No smartphones, no tablets, no WiFi, no tech-aided lessons, no online anything. Just human communication, pencil and paper, helping kids with learning skills and play, teaching them how to have intelligent and respectful conversations, grounding them in their culture and traditions. How about no homework, and using only paper notes and time-tables, giving parents and teachers less reasons to look at their smartphones.

Tech-Free Schools

For one week a term children would be exposed to a sense of security, of community, a sense of belonging and empathy. A sense that they are not entitled but capable, loved and safe. This would cultivate gratitude, humility and duty, rather than self-gratification. There is a direct correlation between feelings of entitlement and having a miserable life. There is also a direct correlation between feeling safe, fulfilling responsibilities, and a rewarding life.

I think that we should do right by our children and not use them as fodder for senseless, disruptive technological experimentation.

Published in the Sunday Times of Malta on the 25th February 2024: Tech-free weeks for schools

If you believe in a just and sustainable society, these other articles may interest you.