Screen-Free, even at school!

Students in Alaska went Screen-Free at school. Photo courtesy Kat Sorenson/Peninsula Clarion.

Students in Alaska went Screen-Free at school. Photo courtesy Kat Sorenson/Peninsula Clarion.

During Screen-Free Week, children and families are encouraged to unplug from entertainment screens. But what if children unplugged during the school day as well?

From February 26-March 2, the students at Nikiski North Star Elementary School in Kenai, Alaska, did just that. The experience was reported in the Peninsula Clarion, and then picked up by newspapers around the country. We couldn’t resist asking the students themselves what they thought of the experience, and here’s what five of them – Belle, Avery, Noah, Kailey, and Telan – had to say. We appreciate their candor and thoughtful assessment of their Screen-Free Week, and applaud Principal Margaret Gilman and all the teachers at Nikiski North Star Elementary School for successfully coordinating a screen-free school week in an age where classroom technology is so pervasive.

My name is Belle. I’m eleven years old. I go to a school on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. A while back, we had a Screen-Free Week. It was kind of unexpected to me. Since we use our Smartboard and computers and laptops and all sorts of technology every day, I thought it would be pretty difficult to transition so suddenly. Looking back, I know that I was making a big deal out of nothing. I didn’t like the sound of no tech. It makes our lives easier. Most people have their faces two inches away from a screen a lot of the time. Some kids (and even adults) spend up to five hours a day on their devices. I don’t understand it. I want people to interact in real life, face to face. Our school realized this problem and taught us kids what it’s like with no technology. I want to thank all of the teachers who gave up their technology. I think that teaching our students without any helpful computers is really brave and selfless. I have a friend who went tech-free at her house too when her parents heard about it from school. During Screen-Free Week, at home, I didn’t use my phone at all either! I liked the idea of an actual Screen-Free Week, at home and at school. On Saturday, I had made arrangements with my friend to go to her house. Instead of watching movies together, like we normally did, we went outside and played on the trampoline, and we played with her cat! It was a lot more fun than watching some people run around a screen. Nikiski North Star’s Unplugged was absolutely amazing!

Hi, my name is Avery. I’m in the fifth grade in Nikiski, Alaska. My school recently participated in a Screen-Free Week, February 26-March 2, 2018. When I heard that we were going to participate in Screen-Free Week, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about it. But, as we got into the week, I noticed that the day went by so much faster when we weren’t using technology. Our class got to interact with each other more and we really got to know each other better! No one was fighting over who got to use one of the few computers we have in the classroom! Our teacher kept us busy learning new things and we had lots more paperwork! The one thing I missed about not using technology for the week was “listening to music.” Other than that, I did enjoy Screen-Free Week, and I wouldn’t mind doing it another week, or maybe longer!

My name is Noah. I am in the fifth grade. I go to a school on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. When my teacher told me and my classmates that we were going to have a Screen-Free Week, we all were shocked! During Screen-Free Week I noticed that my classmates all had better attitudes towards each other. I also noticed that we got a whole lot more work done each day. Our stacks of completed paperwork for each day must’ve been 3 inches tall! By the end of the week, we all had learned more about each other, and learned more than we would have by watching a screen.

My name’s Kailey, and I am in the 5th grade. I go to school on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Our whole entire school just spent a week technology/screen-free. When our principal announced that week we’re to go a whole week without technology, I kind of freaked out!  I imagined the most boring days in the world. To be honest, I totally dreaded it! But it turned out to be a really good learning experience. It took a little getting used to in the beginning, but afterwards it was really enjoyable. I think it was the hardest for our music class because we usually use the smartboard for lyrics and a music player for music. I had a really great experience with tech-free week, and I recommend that we do it again!

Hi, my name is Telan. I am an eleven-year-old that attends Nikiski North Star Elementary on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Just recently we had Nikiski North Star Unplugged. When I first heard about it, I wasn’t the most excited and neither were a lot of the kids in our school.  That week there was a lot of things we might have needed the computers for. When I got home, my mom and dad said we weren’t allowed to watch TV, use the computer or any electronics for the whole week. Surprisingly, my siblings and I barely fought because we had nothing to fight about. We did so many fun things together and learned a lot about each other in school and out. That week we had to make a lot of changes, but we made it, and had a lot of fun! I highly recommend everyone doing a week without electronics.