Encouraging voluntary pauses from social media in teens
Madi Mulick grew up in Seattle, WA and currently attends her public school virtually. She got her first phone in 6th grade for her birthday, ever since that day it has been in her pocket, in her hand, in her bag. The constant connection Madi, and almost every person living today, goes through on a daily basis surprised her when she came to the realization at Alzar School, where she spent 7 weeks straight without her phone. This was not her first awakening, but it was the most impactful. From heading from not having a phone straight to a global pandemic, where she was stuck at home with the only option of social interaction through the screen, Madi has been through a whirlwind.
“I have really enjoyed my time off my phone connecting with my peers and so when I was at home it royally sucked to communicate and keep up with all my friends through my phone.”
– Madi Mulick
Madi realized she wanted to do something. To do this, she brought to her school a two-week challenge, called Offline October, where students were asked to voluntarily give up social media for a duration of time and attend a meeting with other students to discuss social media’s presence in their life. The goal was to see how social media impacted students individually and hopefully, make a change in their daily usage.
Implementation of Project
The challenge the team faced was initially finding a time to begin the project that would work. They eventually found that any day is a good day to get off social media. So the team created flyers for posting to social media to advertise removing it from individual’s phones. Madi worked with her school leadership team, where she holds the position of co-leader of the Community Membership and Sustainability Committee, to reach out to students and gain involvement. Madi and her co-leader partnered with their school Suicide Prevention Team to hold weekly Zoom meetings to discuss a number of things, including the outline, social media’s presence, hopes and goals, and getting to know other students.
Results of Project
Madi and her action team were grateful to know that 76 people signed up and got off of social media.
“It was hard work, but it was worth it”
– Madi Mulick
Madi and her team spent about 12 hours working on the project, which included reaching out to clubs, talking with teachers and administration, planning and organizing, advertising, and finally holding meetings with the participants of their project. Madi and her partner did the majority of the leg work but roughly four other people used their resources and helped propel the project further. Roughly 20 people attended the first Zoom meeting and roughly 55 people attended the second and wrap up meeting.
One participant gushed:
“I was so glad my girlfriend made me sign up, I was able to have personal conversations with my family and spend time with them that I would have on Instagram.”
Overall, the team was proud of the people who participated and the impact of removing oneself from toxic situations. Madi and her team plan on continuing this project two more times throughout the school year in hope of having more people participate. They plan on eventually passing it down to younger classpeople to continue it after they have left the school. Additionally, they also plan on using Madi’s earlier CLP ideas as projects for their school leadership class. These projects include outside clean ups, donation drives, and outdoor art sessions.
“I have some great ideas for Roosevelt that I know other students will be thrilled about, but we just have to put them into action.”
– Madi Mulick
Other leadership opportunities for Madi are all around her and she plans on taking every opportunity to strengthen her leadership skills to become proficient in leading in any situation.