Students challenged to stay off social media for 30 days

The challenge came after the class watched the Netflix documentary, ‘The Social Dilemma’
What did the students do during the challenge? They went back to the basics.
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 9:49 AM EDT
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MUNISING, Mich. (WLUC) - Could you give up social media for a whole month?

That’s exactly what a middle and high school teacher in Munising challenged his students to do. Together they watched a documentary titled ‘The Social Dilemma.’ He used the film as an opportunity to talk with students about the effects of social media and the time they spend online. And as a bonus, if 80% of the students who agreed to participate were successful, he’d drop their lowest test score at the end of the semester.

About half of his 50 students decided to take the challenge, TV6′s Elizabeth Peterson found out why.

Elizabeth asked the student simply, “Why did you decide to do this challenge?”

Some of their responses included:

“I’m always on my phone.” “I know it’s good for me.” “I need to like calm down and take time off.” “I don’t really have that many social media apps, but Tik Tok alone, is crazy.” “I’ve always wanted to get off social media” “Within the next week, I spiraled. I just kept using it, and using it, and using it” “I decided to do it because why not - get a chance like that, just go for it - git ‘er done.” Sound kind of easy, right? But, in 2022, taking a break from social media, especially as a high schooler - *is not* easy. And yet a growing number of teens and adults for that matter are beginning to pay attention to not just how much time they are spending connected digitally but what information they are seeing when they are signed in. The Social Dilemma is a documentary on Netflix.

It takes the viewer inside social media platforms to show what pushes search results, advertisements and suggestions. What’s detailed is a bit frightening.

Munising 10th grader Jailen Hancock said, “I thought it was really crazy how they control you and all the different ways they control you into doing something else.”

Classmate Carly Reffruschinni agreed, “It was definitely surprising how they like see everything and they base it off what you do.”

Add that to the amount of time being spent, some might say wasted on social media and these students were up for the social media challenge.

All of the students who spoke with Elizabeth agreed the challenge gave them more time for themselves. They found themselves going back to the simpler things in life, the things we all wish we had a bit more time for. Turns out - maybe we have it.

They went outside, spent time with their family, read books, hung out with friends, but it wasn’t smooth sailing for everyone. After all, it was called a challenge for a reason.

Hancock a few weeks in said, “I’m going to try my best to keep going good so far, but I don’t know, it’s getting a little hard.”

Eric Lynch, the students teacher added, “We had a lot of them take the challenge and a lot of them succeed but a lot of them still made it a week, two weeks, some of them made it three weeks and even that, I count that as a win because they gained a lot of perspective.”

In part two, airing tomorrow, Elizabeth talks with those who made it through the challenge and those who didn’t. What they learned and the changes they’re planning to make into the future. Because interestingly enough, all of the students who spoke with her said whether they made it to the end or not, they plan to reduce the time they spend on social media.

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