Teens, have them “unplug” from technology

military school cadets studying togetherAt Marine Military Academy, we do our students a great favor:  We help them “unplug.”

At MMA, cadets are only allowed to use their cell phones and tablets on the weekends. Likewise, they can only play video games or watch television on the weekends. While they may certainly use computers and the Internet on weekdays for homework purposes, their rooms are computer free.

I can imagine what you’re thinking: OMG! That’s crazy! How do those boys live without technology?

The answer is: Quite easily.

A person can actually live without a cell phone or a television set or any other electronic gadget for five straight days. He simply needs to adjust.

Having a limited electronics policy not only helps our students better focus on their studies, it helps them develop better social skills. I find it so refreshing to speak to a boy who will look you straight in the eye and speak in complete sentences rather than someone who cannot pull his eyes away from a phone screen. I find it so encouraging to see a boy play a game of chess with his roommate instead of isolating himself in a computer game.

Am I a bit old-fashioned? Absolutely. Am I anti-technology? Absolutely not. I am, however, anti-addiction.

In today’s society where nearly every house has multiple cell phones, computers, tablets and t.v. sets, it’s hard enough for an adult to unplug much less a teenager. However, it’s important for people to own these devices — not the other way around.

Is it really that surprising that the epidemic of ADHD in the United States coincides with the rise of mobile devices?

For your brain’s sake, learn to turn off the electronic gadgets … even if it’s just for a little while. You might just get up from the chair and do more things. You might just talk and visit with your friends more often. You might just think a little more clearly and do better at school or at work.

Do yourself a favor and UNPLUG. You might just like it!

Col R. Glen Hill
Superintendent of Marine Military Academy

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