Is it possible any longer to live without electronic media? I write this on my laptop with my mobile phone next to me on my desk (I am expecting a call) and a load of tweets telling me to watch Sherlock on iPlayer.
The Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), as part of its ten-year Reform Process, identifies every month a ‘Project of the Month’. (Which reminds me of when I read about the American funeral directors who were trying to improve ‘the bereavement experience’ by nominating a ‘Crem de Month’ award…) This is seen as an imaginative way to disseminate good practice, creative ideas and good stories. Today I got the EKD Newsletter (email firstname.lastname@example.org)) and was struck by this month’s winner.
One week – no media involved getting groups of young people in Württemberg to hand over their mobile phones, not watch television and not use a computer for one whole week. If you read German, follow the link. Basically, each person kept a daily diary, recording their experiences – what was hard and what they discovered positively from the experience. Daily meetings and activities were run in order to keep the kids motivated. At the end of the week there was an evaluation of all that had been experienced and learned, and the phones, consoles, laptops, etc. were ritually returned. (The kids were probably dribbling with anticipation by this time…)
What is interesting is that many of the young people discovered new creativity, spent more time with their families and communicated more and better with them. You know – talking and old stuff like that.
Yes, some failed to make the week – often (interestingly) because the parents couldn’t bear missing their diet of television.
And the point of it all? To question the nature and volume of media consumption and to improve media literacy among the young people so that they are in more control of their media consumption rather than being controlled by it. One teacher commented of his class: “For one week we gave the children their childhood back.”
Apart from the imaginative nature of the project itself, it does touch on issues being raised in England: the way the media shape our minds, the nature of childhood, and how to measure the well-being or happiness of our children – given that British children appear to be some of the unhappiest in Europe.