Disconnect: The Tech Addiction Challenge

Lions in Italy have decided to see for themselves exactly how addicted to technology their kids are.

The Lions of District 108 TB designed an experiment with more than 500 young people from the Modena, Italy, region, challenging them to go three days without using their mobile phones.

It was not the goal to demonize an instrument that they consider very useful, explained Eugenio Garavini, past president of the Vignola Castelli Medioevali Lions Club. It was more about helping the children understand that the mobile and other “smart” tools must be one arrow in their bow and not a weapon aimed at them.

The study was composed of students who, on average, received their first mobile phone at age 11 and use it for at least five hours a day (with peaks of 10 hours for 6 percent of the respondents). Fifty-four percent never turn off their phone during the day, and 67 percent keep it on even while they sleep.

The results were analyzed by members of the Modena CEIS — a nonprofit organization involved in the design, development, and management of social-educational and social-assistance services — and found that 71 percent of the students (304 out of 429) declared that they had passed the test, managing to stay without a mobile phone and internet connection for three days. Seventy-eight percent of the students said they felt good without a mobile phone, and 75 percent said that how much better they felt exceeded the discomfort of disconnecting.

Many of the students said they talked more at home, studied better, and began to understand the influence that the smartphone has on their lives by watching their friends completely lost in their monitors.

The idea seemed to resonate at the national level and was covered by several radio stations and local newspapers, highlighting the rising interest in better understanding and managing our relationship with technology.

The Lions plan to continue a working group aimed at tackling the issue.