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College student asks classmates to unplug

Published 10:22 am, Monday, March 24, 2014
  • Chris White, Class of 2010 at New Canaan High School, is asking the campus community at Brigham Young University - Idaho to adopt a more distraction-free lifestyle. Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed / New Canaan News Contributed

    Chris White, Class of 2010 at New Canaan High School, is asking the campus community at Brigham Young University - Idaho to adopt a more distraction-free lifestyle.

    Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed

 

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Studies have shown that social isolation, constant distraction, neck and head pain, loss of hearing and eyesight, poor sleeping habits and obesity are just some of the social and health effects technology may have on our lives.

So New Canaan High School alum Chris White this week asked his classmates at Brigham Young University-Idaho to unplug for one day.

"Everywhere I go around this campus, people always have their headphones in," White said. "They are always doing something on their phone. And whenever my friends come home from class, they're always on Netflix, playing video games or watching TV, or something."

The Rexburg Unplug 2014, conducted Tuesday, encouraged the campus community, which is located in Rexburg, Idaho, to limit its use of social media and electronic devices.

The idea started when White, a sophomore business management major, suggested the event on a Facebook page. He said he thought just a few friends would see it. But after he and his friends made a promo video, which received 1,000 views in less than 24 hours, he believes most of the campus' 15,000 students got word of the event.

"When I have my headphones in, or when I'm watching TV, it's very easy just to be emotionless and just sit there and take things in," he said. "But when I unplug and experience what's going around me, I really feel like I'm able to accomplish more."

Tuesday's event was not a ban on the Internet or phone calls. White was asking the community to avoid watching TV, listening to music, playing video games and using social media as much as possible.

The New Canaan native had a similar experience from 2011 to 2013 when he served full-time as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brigham Young University-Idaho is affiliated with the church.

During those two years, White said he accomplished a lot with his life and was very productive. "I grew so much as a person," he said.

White said people should realize how much time they spend using electronic devices every day, instead of talking to each other or enjoying the environment, for instance.

"We only have 24 hours a day," he said, "and if we spend about five or six of those in front of the TV, then another seven or eight sleeping, we are losing all this time that we can be doing much better things."

White said the university's faculty and student body received the event "incredibly well." He said teachers were showing the event's promo video to students in class and the administration was helping to spread the message. As of Tuesday, the video had about 2,800 views on YouTube.

White noted, however, that he doesn't want Rexburg Unplug 2014 to be a "one-day" annual event. He said he hopes some people actually would change their behavior.

"The whole goal of this is to give people a glance at how good and productive their lives can be and hopefully make a change in their actions," White said.

noliveira@bcnnew.com, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson