Principal gives $100 to students who give up screens


Tech Talk Tuesday #82: Principal offers $100 to students to give up their screens, see what happens... 

If you were asked to give up your phone one day a week for $100, would you do it?  In June, Dr. Diana Smith, the principal of Washington Latin, a public charter school in Washington DC, challenged the 8th and 9th grade students to forgo any type of screen time—phone, television, tablet, video game consoles, etc.—every Tuesday over the entire summer.

If a student successfully completed “No-Tech-Tuesday” by staying away from technology for every one of the summer’s 11 Tuesdays, had written verification from two adults, and wrote an essay detailing what they learned from being technology-free, Dr. Smith would give them $100 of her money. To fund the $100 per student prize Dr. Smith canceled her cable TV service. Of the 160 students in the 8th and 9th grades, 30 students qualified for the prize.

Dr. Smith started the No-Tech-Tuesday challenge in response to seeing so many of her students struggle with setting and maintaining screen-time limits, so much so that their habits, especially around peer interactions, were suffering. “I wanted the students to discipline themselves … in order to understand what happens to their lives without technology.”

For this TTT, let’s talk about money as a motivator to change behavior, especially around technology.  It will be interesting to follow the long term effects of this challenge. Ask your family what they think:

  • Would you put your phone away one day a week for money?
  • Do you notice a difference in your interactions when you don’t use your phone?
  • What would it take to get you to put your phone away on your own?