By Josh Chang and Aliya Huprikar, Freshmen at Irvington High School
The other night, a group of us went out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. At dinner, we immediately found ourselves glued to our phones. We spoke for a couple of minutes about what we wanted to order, but everyone soon ended up scrolling through Instagram or playing a video game. After a few quiet moments, looking around the table, everyone’s head was down.
“Guys,” one of the group said. Everyone’s head shot up. “Let’s get off our phones. Here.” We collected everyone’s phones, stacking them up at the end of the table, face down.
“Let’s be engaged,” someone across the table said sarcastically. We all laughed, but there was some truth in that statement. Too often, we end up distracted by sudden buzzes in our pockets that allure us into the endlessly addicting digital world. By putting the phones out of arm’s reach, we stopped those distractions, and just like that, we started to live in the moment and have much more fun.
Someone had brought a deck of cards, and we spent the rest of the meal playing games and eating burgers. It was an awesome evening that we all truly enjoyed, one that wasn’t dominated by devices. The phone rule was flexible: we could still text our parents to let them know what was happening, and if someone wanted to show something funny online, they could, but all the small, impulsive interactions were limited.
Putting everyone’s phones together and to the side is an easy way to keep your head up during times like dinner that should be about face-to-face interaction. When you keep your phone in your pocket it’s too easy to just “glance” at a notification and get sucked into the digital world, rather than the real one. Keeping everyone’s phone in one place prevents this, and makes that “glance” a lot more public. Organizing an activity, like a card or board game, is a great idea because it’s a screen-free way of ensuring everyone is engaged. In the end, the most important part is that everybody has genuine fun and meaningful interactions with the people around them, something that is difficult if phones are in the picture.