The 22 students at California Academy for Liberal Studies Early College High School in Los Angeles are in the middle of the experiment, so there's no word yet on how they're surviving without TV, e-mail, PCs, cell phones, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or texting.
Their homeroom teacher, Shannon Meyer, challenged the students to go cold turkey for a week and they accepted, even though they had their doubts that they could tough it out without their devices, many of which appear to be natural appendages.
"These kids are really bright, but they're quickly bored," Meyer told the Los Angeles Times. "I think they'll find that their quality of life is better, but they'll go back to their old habits anyway." She said she thinks the constantly wired teenager can find it difficult to follow classroom dialogue or even interact with others in a meaningful way.
According to a report by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, many youthful users of electronic gadgets are "super communicators -- teens who have a host of technology options for dealing with family and friends including landline phones, cell phones, texting, social network sites, instant messaging and e-mail." Many are older girls.
In the sense that Pew surveys have found that much wired activity among teenagers is about participating in conversations fueled by content they've created on their devices, the Los Angeles students may find their seven-day blackout an ordeal.
Before the test began, students tried to imagine how they would cope. One basketball fan glumly observed that he would have to get scores in the newspaper. Another student thought she would talk to family members more than usual.
When the experiment -- or ordeal -- is over, the students will be able to consider the opinions of UCLA professor Peter Whybrow, who says in his new book, American Mania: When More Is Not Enough: "We're reward-driven creatures who love novelty and trinkets. But we can become victims of what once was a great survival mechanism if it is not reined in by a more intellectual part of the brain."
Whybrow added that people often are seduced by objects that they love but don't need.
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