Submitted By Sofie Martinez, Student
...It’s the conversations I’ve had, the people I’ve met, the relationships that have reconnected. That’s what’s made Offline October so worth it. I don’t have to sit with someone and worry about what to post so people knew I was here. I’m living in the moment, living in the now, and realizing how amazing that is. It’s crazy what you notice when something’s gone. Like how many times I’d check my phone without any need, take my eyes off the person I’m in the middle of a conversation with, and even the itch I’d get when I didn’t have my phone in class. It had become a part of my identity, and I’m so glad I have had the chance to gain that back.
DENVER – 9NEWS did a story on Offline October, the impact it is already having, and why more than 1300 people worldwide have pledged to the cause.
This article is written by Jane Mo of KUSA
Teenagers in Europe, Asia and America - including Colorado - are pledging to delete all social media apps on their phones for one month.
"Social media really shows the ingenuity and a false reality," Joe Roberts, a junior partaking in Offline October, said. "Everyone's posting their perfect pictures, posting their perfect lives and perfect stories...but in reality, everyone's lives aren't all that perfect."
A group of students in Littleton started a campaign called "Offline October." It's a pledge for students to give up social media accounts for the entire month, "in order to spend time with friends and family, appreciate those around me, get outside, and participate in community events," according to their website.
Students met up on the eve of October 1 to delete their apps together.
"It was weird because I've been on my phone so often," Chloe Schilling, a participant of Offline October said. "So it was nice. I hung out with my family all day (the first day of Offline October.)"
An average teenager in the U.S. spends nine hours consuming media, according to Common Sense Media.
"It's also...when you're hanging out with friends and you're supposed to be with your friends and one of your friends is sitting there snapchatting 50 people," Carly Spotts, a student in Littleton said. "Or when one of your friends is asking what their Instagram caption should be rather than laughing at whatever just happened."
The teenagers of Littleton want to go offline for three main reasons:
1. Suicide Prevention
"We believe that social media plays a negative role in teenagers lives and is a factor to depression and suicide. By removing social media for one month, morale and confidence will be boosted."
2. Peer-2-Peer Conversations
"Teenagers have lost the art of talking face to face with one another. By removing social media for October, students will choose to talk to one another face to face or over the phone instead of through social media applications."
3. Events and hangouts
"Students report that they feel as if their friends do not do as much outside of school together. We believe that if we take away social media, students will choose to spend time hanging with their friends instead of spending time on social media."
"Don't post a story. Live one."
It's the anthem and heartbeat for the teenagers left in the aftermath of tragedy in their community.
Roberts said the goal isn't to just be off social media for one month. He wants the average number teenagers spend on their phones to drastically go down over time.
There's already more than 1,300 pledges from students in 200 schools, in six countries.
Littleton Public Schools are promoting Offline October at all their schools.
"We know how powerful peer to peer connections can be," Nate Thompson, LPS Director said. "That's why this campaign is so exciting. We are so proud of these teenagers throughout our community who have come together to create positive change."
If you would like to participate or find out more information on Offline October, visit their website at: http://www.offlineoctober.com/
On October 1, 2017, more than 150 students gathered at Clement Park to kickoff Offline October! The students kicked off the month by eating pancakes sponsored by IHOP, playing cornhole, spikeball, football, volleyball and frisbee! At 10:30, the crowd pulled out their phones and deleted social media all at the same time. This is the first of many Offline Events this year and it couldn't have been a greater success.
A senior from Heritage High School is conducting a survey for her AP Capstone project on the effect of social media on teen's mental health. Please take a minute to take the survey which will be followed up again at the end of October. Thank you!
Author: Ila R.
As the mother of a son who is still grieving the loss of one of his best friends to suicide last year I cannot emphasize enough the power of human interaction. This is a piece that was published in June on the Option B website, under the category of Raising Resilient Kids. It is our family's story and it may shed some light on the aftermath of teen suicide.
“Um, mom? I think something happened to someone at school,” my high school freshman said cautiously from the back seat of the car. “What do you mean?” I asked. “I’m seeing stuff on Snapchat,” she replied. A quick visit to my emails on my phone confirmed her words. The principal at my children’s high school had sent a letter to parents informing us of the “sudden death of a current student.” My heart sank. Just a mere four months prior our school community had received a similar type of email and it shook my son, a high school junior, to his core.
Parenting is not easy. Each stage of it brings its own set of challenges. When asked most of us would define parenting success with children who are happy and healthy. But what importance does resilience play in their lives? At the start of my son’s junior year my husband and I learned just how resilient my son is. My parenting took a turn for which I was completely ill-equipped. When school began last August, one of my son’s best friends took his own life. Even writing these words seems surreal. When I say he was one of his best friends I mean that this young man was like a brother to my son. Back in seventh grade when we moved my son from our small Catholic school to the large public school this young man was one of the first to befriend him. They connected immediately as they were both funny, sensitive boys. Their friendship was a beautiful thing to witness.
The news of his passing was a gut-punch that sent us into a tailspin. Our entire family loved this young man. The week following the news was a blur of emotions: shock, sadness, guilt. My husband and I did our best to offer our son a safe space to display his feelings. If he was angry and just wanted to throw something, we wanted him to. If he was broken-hearted and just wanted to cry, we wanted him to. If he was in denial and just needed to sit and play video games, we wanted him to. We knew eventually these pockets of emotions would make way for his true feelings. We knew eventually he’d want to talk about what happened. Or so we thought.
Walking along side a child who is grieving is unlike anything else. When children lose a peer it upends all they know to be true. The counselors at my kids’ school met with parents to share their knowledge and experience. They reassured us that the faculty and staff would keep an eye on our kids, that their doors were always open should they need to talk. All of my son’s teachers and coaches knew that he was personally affected and to that end they offered kind words and emails. Whatever accommodations might be needed for my son they were ready to give. The only glitch was that he was not ready for any of it. He refused to speak with counselors at the school. He felt the eyes of his teachers looking at him differently. He thought the coaches were showing him leniency. All of this he equated to special attention and he wanted no part of it. We knew he was hurting but he would not share his pain with his father and me. So we tried to be patient and give him time.
The weeks passed into months and I watched him lose his joy. There were moments of smiles or laughter but his heart was broken. He found it difficult to concentrate in school. He would turn down invitations from friends in favor of his room, his laptop, and Netflix. He was angry at God and felt no comfort or peace in attending church service with us. He wasn’t eating or sleeping well. My normally soft-spoken son would fly off the handle from time to time. Although he did not display any of the destructive behaviors that the school counselors warned us of, I was worried. I felt like I was watching him slip away from the amazing person he had grown into. Parenting him for the first 17 years of his life was nothing compared to this. I simply did not know how to help him. So I did what I knew best, I continued to love him. I loved him through a perpetually messy room. I loved him through forgotten homework assignments. I loved him through neglected household chores. I loved him through a disappointing basketball tryout. I loved him through a traffic ticket. I loved him through text messages filled with goofy memes found on the internet. My love for him was all I had left. I also prayed and I asked everyone I knew to pray for him. Then, between my smothering love and the prayers, I saw it happen. His resiliency began to break through. He started engaging with us and others again. He was smiling more. Signs of his former self were emerging. He was willing to meet with a counselor, one who specializes in helping teens. He still doesn’t talk about what happened freely, but if questioned he shares a bit of his heart. Of course as his mother I want him to unload all that he’s been holding on to, but I also know I can’t ask for more than he’s willing to give.
Nothing could have prepared me to parent a child through grief. We all just want what is best for our children. We want to be able to right the wrongs in their lives. That’s what I wanted. I wanted to mend his broken heart. In a world where results and reactions are so immediate, patience became my mantra. The road to healing will be a long one and we have just begun that journey. But he has shown just how resilient he is. It is something for which I am incredibly grateful. This will shape the man my son becomes. He will make decisions based on this experience. When he hears the news of another loss of life at such a young age it will bring his emotions right back to the surface. It is a part of his story. My hope and prayer for him is that he will always carry the memory of his dear friend with him. I want him to accept his diploma for both of them at their high school graduation. I want him to take him along to college in a year. I want him to think of him when gets a job and buys a car. I want that precious friendship to be ever present. I want him to know that after a loss like this, with some resilience, there can be joy once again.
1. Social Media Shows Artificial Perfection.
Social Media does a good job at portraying perfection, the only problem, perfection in social media is usually false. Don't Post a Perfect Life, Live a Perfect Life.
2. Social Media is Time Consuming.
The average student spends 4 hours on their phone per day. Imagine all the things you can do with those extra 4 hours in that day. Don't Tweet to Your Friends, Meet with them!
3. You Will be Happier and More Grateful For You're Life.
Sign out of Social Media, Sign In for reality. You will start to notice the blessings in your life, and realize what you take for granted.
Welcome to Offline October!! Thank you so much for taking the time to look at and hopefully participate in making a difference. During the month of October, we hope you truly witness an increase in your happiness and gain respect for those around you. It’s going to be hard for the first week, but in the end it’s going to be so worth it. If you’re thinking about turning away from the challenge, really take time to consider it over the next few weeks. Now is an awesome chance to witness the power of people coming together and see how much more you can do without your phone. If you sign up, you will receive texts regarding events we are having, such as a volleyball tournament, outdoor movie and so much more! We wish you the best of luck and we can’t wait to see the increase in positivity! Remember: Don’t post a story, live one.