Roosevelt students pledge to go device-free for National Day of Unplugging

The impression that kids can’t get away from their electronics will be challenged by seventh- and eighth-graders at a Springfield middle school for 24 hours beginning early this evening.

With the theme “Grow Love,” several students from Roosevelt Middle School will leave their cell phones, video games, televisions and other technology off beginning at sunset today through sunset on Saturday to mark National Day of Unplugging, a daylong break to focus on more in-personal interactions.

It was following a youth summit in 2021 that Roosevelt students were inspired to participate. They had learned that nearly a third of students were eating dinner in their bedrooms and nearly half wanted to eat more as a family.

They also found phones and television were additional guests at dinner, barriers to parent-child communication.

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Around 30-40 kids participated in the initial Day of Unplugging pledge. Roosevelt school counselor Amber Holdeman is pleased to see a bigger push and more participation this year, with the seventh graders of last year leading the way having a year of experience behind them.

“We did a better job of promoting it and getting the word out in general,” she said.

The students got contracts they created on last week to unplug and presented to the staff. Others could sign up during lunch periods and promoted during announcements and open periods and even created t-shirts.

The contract this year is longer and incorporated into the school day. iPads are a primary tool, so the students came up with a proposal to do their work today using pencil and paper rather than the devices; Haldeman said it was up to each teacher as to whether to do that option.

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Participants who unplug for the 24-hour period and return the contract on Monday will receive a Tropical Smoothie gift card and be entered into a drawing for a gift basket.

That won’t be the end. The students will continue to collect data on the effect of devices including issues such as if Google chats and constant notifications distract from their work and social media bullying.

They will also work with Springfield City Schools communications to help create a PSA about the importance of unplugging to promote family connection and bonding.

Holdeman sees this as valuable information going forward, and that National Day of Unplugging may remain an annual project at Roosevelt for years to come.

“It’s an important topic and an easy enough thing to do,” she said. “It’s always good to get kids involved in something like this.”

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