Students attending the Columbus College of Art and Design celebrated “unplugged day” by switching off smart phones, mobile devices and computers and practiced old-fashioned face-to-face interactions.
(TNS) â It wasn't your ordinary art school exhibit on the window of the Loann Crane Center for Design at Columbus College of Art & Design on Wednesday.
A rainbow splatter of Post-it notes clung to the glass. On them were messages from students steering clear of technology for the day, instead posting to a different kind of wall.
The sticky sentiments ranged from relief, encouragement and doodles to temptation and honesty.
"The urge to check Twitter is strong," read one note.
"Being unplugged for the day! It's going to be good for my mental health," read another.
"Finding a place to live next year" was on one student's mind. Another sticky note simply read, "I have no idea what I'm doing," with an optimistic smiley face.
The exercise was part of CCAD's "Unplugged Day," a student-led initiative to take a break from email, texts and social media.
"We're encouraging students and faculty and staff to kind of take a tech blackout for the whole day," said Mickenzie Willars, president of the CCAD Student Government Association. "It's basically just encouraging face-to-face interaction and kind of like giving your mind a break from constantly being plugged in and available."
Students also could unplug Wednesday by taking advantage of a succulent-planting station and Valentine-making at the Crane Center.
"It's a hard test," junior advertising and graphic design major Amyia Chea said of steering clear of technology.
"It's hard because social media is important. It keeps me up-to-date, and I like to post stuff on it," said the 20-year-old from the Northeast Side.
CCAD's Student Government Association came up with the idea for Unplugged Day after hearing about concerns on the Downtown campus about student stress, anxiety and depression, as well as from results of a student survey indicating that 89 percent of students spend at least three hours on their electronic devices a day.
"I was shocked," said Chris Mundell, CCAD vice president for student affairs, of students approaching him about their idea for Unplugged Day.
"I've seen how much technology plays a role in their lives," he said. "Especially how much devices like phones are important to college students."
Leading up to Wednesday, the student government group promoted graphics and messages that students could use to post online or on their emails explaining why they might be away from their devices for the day. Classes and homework went on as usual, but even faculty and staff members were encouraged to hold more face-to-face meetings rather than exchange emails.
'It's everywhere. In some ways, it's everything," Mundell said of students' technology and social-media use. "Students come to campuses with networks already built through their social-media contacts."
Social media also is a bit of a necessity for art students, some CCAD students said Wednesday. Junior animation major Mackenzie Bigley tends to stray from social media, but she said she recently set a goal of being more active on Instagram to promote her art. She was perfectly OK taking a day to unplug.
"I have it for art reasons and that's it. I don't enjoy it," said the 20-year-old from Pittsburgh, adding, "It's definitely hard not to compare yourself to others."
"This makes a lot of sense, to sort of bring awareness about the negative effects of it," Bigley said of the exercise.
Mundell said CCAD plans some post-Unplugged Day evaluations, adding that a group of CCAD's industrial-design students will be working on a multi-semester project to examine the impact of technology on mental health.
Willars said Unplugged Day is about positivity, not criticizing individuals for their screen time. But she hopes the CCAD community can build on Wednesday's tech timeout.
"Really, we're hoping it inspires awareness in the students that participate in this event and maybe from there they can maybe lead self-guided unplugged days," she said.
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