63 times a day is how often the average smartphone user checks their device.
While mobile phones have been around for some years, it is nowadays when we see a sudden growing dependence on their usage. This dependency or addiction to smartphones is officially called Nomophobia, which means having a fear of not having your phone with you.
According to a 2019 update in the report for SMARTPHONE ADDICTION FACTS & PHONE USAGE STATISTICS, the average smartphone user checks their device 63 times a day, which is 16 times more compared to the data of the previous year.
What makes smartphones ever so appealing is the nature of their content, i.e. the internet, social networks, video, music, and so on. According to the most recent Eurostat statistics, 91% of young people in the EU makes daily use of the internet, and their use of social networks and technology has reached an average of 6 hours per day, meaning they spend a quatre of their day on it.
Dr Jean Twenge believes that such an amount of time has an impact on brain functioning and its development. In her study on Increases in depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates among U.S. adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time, the San Diego State University psychologist finds a relationship between social media and depression. Also, the researcher has shown that teenage and young adult users who spend most of their free time on Facebook and Instagram have a relevant higher rate (from 13% to 66 per cent) of reported depression than those who make moderate use of them.
At Vagamondo they have found a solution to the problem.
At Vagamondo – Associazione di Promozione Sociali our partners saw an opportunity for a training course that would aim at improving the competence and soft skills of youth workers who are engaged in supporting young people in the following areas:
- increasing their self-awareness upon their relationship with technology and the impact it has on them
- building more healthy habits concerning how they use technology
- improving their soft skills
That is how ‘Train Your Disconnection’ was submitted and approved by their National Agency – Agenzia Nazionale per i Giovani. The project took place in Bergolo, Italy from 3rd to 11th of June 2019, and gathered together 20 participants from 10 European countries; Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Keep reading to find out more about the program and its stages.
The program was developed mainly by non-formal methods, fully involving the participants in the experience: based on the idea that first, we experience ourselves, after, we transmit what we learned to others. Therefore the participants took part in several activities aimed to raise personal awareness, to foster direct interaction with other people and the connection with nature and to build more healthy habits concerning the use of technology. Moreover, the youth workers experienced the effect of staying disconnected from technology for 7 days: they left all technologic devices (phones, laptops, cameras, watches, music players, etc.) in a safe box for the duration of the program.
The project had 3 stages; i.e. preparation, training, and follow-up. During the preparation phase, the Greek participants invented a short activity (15-20 min); an Ice-breaker connected to the topic of disconnection from technologies and reconnection with oneself. They have successfully implemented the activity during the training course.
During the training course, participants had the chance to practice and increase their competencies in the field of youth work in relation to the main topic of this project: they received some theoretical inputs from the trainers, and with their support, each national team created their own workshops aimed to develop more healthy habits in relation to technology. The Greek participants, Katerina and Elias, worked together and came up with the Insta-S(t)ory workshop.
On 27th of June 2019, Katerina successfully implemented the Insta_S(t)ory workshop in her hometown, Patras, in the polyphonic choir building, as part of the dissemination process of the project; i.e. the 3rd and final stage. Young people at the age of 15 -25 years old which attended the event increased the sensitivity towards their internet habits, the culture of uploading pictures and commenting on social media.
This workshop, together with the original energisers and ice-breakers created in the preparation phase, and the workshops of the other national teams, will be included in a manual that will be used and disseminated by the organisations involved in the project.
Katerina shared her thoughts with us after the full digital detox in Bergolo.
“Hello, my name is Katerina Papadopoulou, I am 25 years old, and I live in Greece. As a musician and Speech and Language therapist, I love working with children and young people. I wanted to find out a way to balance the technology usage because I already knew that the overuse is preventing the children’s development of communicational skills, but on the other side, I was also aware of the beneficial impact that technological progress brings. Another reason for joining the program was my curiosity in finding out exactly how “addicted” I was to technology.”
“During the project, I learned things about myself, the others and the use of technology. I understood that I could spend a wonderful time without my devices (phone, camera) and be even more relaxed because the need to check my emails and profiles was gone. It was amazing to see that we started to interact and talk more with each other when we gave away our devices. Of course, there were times when we missed the convenience of using technology, e.g. when we wanted to listen to music. However, the most obvious solution to this minor obstacle was for us to make music on our own.”
“All the activities and discussions we had made me aware that the problem is not the technology itself, but the way we tend to use it. I am now sure that If I train myself to be more aware of how I use my devices, i.e. to use them as a helpful tool and not to depend on them, I will improve my life. This fact I want to share with the youngsters I work with and help them become more communicative and active in the “real life”, which is happening now and not on the internet.”
- Posted by Yuli Zhelyazkov
- On July 5, 2019