On Sept. 23, upper school students participated in the second annual Unplug Day, sponsored by the Student Advisory Board (SAB). The day was designed to bring awareness to an issue that affects nearly everyone at Pace: overuse of technology. SAB boldly challenged students to give up their phone for an entire school day. Although it sounded like an unthinkable task, nearly 40% of the student body participated. “When we were collecting the phones in assembly, it felt like I was getting a lot, which was awesome,” said senior SAB member Caroline Mills.
Designed to encourage face-to-face communication and increase students’ ability to focus, turning off the phones made many aware of how much time they actually spend on their phones. For example, the average smart phone user checks his or her phone 150 times a day, according to Business Insider. “Doing work in your frees is really in right now, so I’m trying to get some work done,” said junior participant Bailey O’Sullivan.
SAB focused on restricting cellphone use because it is a problem which afflicts every single student. Whether you are the perpetrator zoned into his or her phone or the victim being ignored by an Instagram-addicted friend, the prominence of cellphones shapes everyday interaction. “It makes you realize how much you actually use your phone, so just sitting here talking to Caroline is really nice instead of us just sitting on Instagram,” said senior Annie Butler. “I appreciate the sentiment and I’m really glad I did it.”
Although SAB made several adjustments to this year’s Unplugged Day, the feedback was mostly positive. Probably the biggest challenge of the day was that surprisingly few Pace students can read an analog clock. “Not having my phone is especially hard because I don’t know how to read a normal clock,” said junior Mary Stuart Gray. One addition was the reward of a “feast” at the end of the day for those who completed the challenge, which featured Oreo balls, brownies, chips and cookies. “I unplugged because I’m always on my phone and it’s time to stop,” said freshman Ibum Obu. “Plus I really wanted food at the end of the day.”
Along with the feast, SAB added the incentive of winning points for the House Cup. “I am the biggest Harry Potter fan ever, and so I am unplugging for the House Cup,” said junior Haley Hartman.