I also noticed that when reading the diary entries: that the young people find it terrible not to belong anymore when everyone else is looking at their cell phones and they themselves are just standing around in the room. On the other hand, they also lacked an important tool for doing homework or learning vocabulary.
Yes, the smartphone is more suitable for some subjects than for others. And then you have to say that some young people are very good at structuring and setting themselves apart. But another, large part cannot do this and lets themselves be distracted from the subject matter by their cell phones.
Mobile phone fasting is pretty radical. Should cell phones be banned from school?
A good question. You can’t ban everyone from smartphones. But I do think that it needs to be regulated to limit the damage it does.
Pupils should be given the opportunity to learn by experiencing and doing things themselves.
But you can’t do that with a book either. You only read there. This is also a rather one-dimensional experience.
What does that mean? A book is something limited. It has a beginning and an end. I can grasp it in its entirety. That is the big difference. With a book, I can’t quickly swipe away and look at something else when a message comes in.
I find that very culturally pessimistic. Perhaps our brains will also learn the multitasking that it needs for this increasingly complex world. But we have to train for that.
That’s right. Man gets used to everything. He has also gotten used to speeds that were unbearable in the 19th century. The train at 30 km/h was perceived as extremely fast. But what bothers me is the underlying requirement that humans should adapt to machines. Because the question is: Do we even want to be this multitasking person?
I think that we should not be the accessories of the machines, but the machines should be our accessories. It’s a question of the human image.
Then I’ll ask you a big question: What is your image of a person?
A man who has time! I constantly experience young people who are short of time. They then tell me: “I would love to do this and that, but I don’t have time for it!” They are completely clocked and distracted. I think boredom is very important for a good life.
During the experiment, the young people reported excruciating boredom. Without smartphones, time seemed infinitely long to them.
That was actually a goal of the project. I wanted to give young people the opportunity to be bored. During the week, some youngsters stared at the wall, bored and totally confused. This is an extremely important experience because it can then lead to a reflection: What am I doing? Who am I? Who do I want to be? Our society leaves us little time to reflect.
How was the last day before they released the phones again?
I came into the room with the box in which the smartphones were and there was dead silence – but not out of joy, but rather out of tension. There was a certain fear of what might have rolled in that week. Something has built up that now needs to be dealt with and processed. I’ve even heard it said, “Oh, actually, I don’t want that thing back.”
(Editing: Anneke Selle, Cornelia Winkler)