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Long Island High School Students Challenged To Go A Week Without Cellphones

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CARLE PLACE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Students at one Long Island school went through withdrawal from Instagram, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr this week, but they learned they could actually live without their cellphones.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the unplugging experiment was held at Carle Place High School. Students in Ms. Melissa Mehling’s English class were studying Ray Bradbury’s dystopian futuristic novel “Fahrenheit 451,” about a bookless, hedonistic and illiterate society distracted and infatuated by mass media.

“I challenged the kids for one week not to use their cellphones and social media,” Mehling said.

And in taking on the challenge, some students admitted that they were distracted and infatuated by electronic devices.

“You don’t talk anymore and you don’t start conversations,” one student said.

“It’s so hard to cut back when you are already so used to it,” another said.

“Some of us are really obsessed with our phones; some couldn’t last one period when we got our phones wrapped,” a third said.

Some students went so far as to call their cellphone, iPad and Internet use an “epidemic,” and wondered whether they had the inner strength to hand over their “obsessed” possessions to their teacher.

“I gathered the phones, I wrapped them in paper, and then I wrapped them in duct tape,” Mehling said.

And the students were sent home each day for a week, actually to speak and converse with their parents and do their homework using books.

“At first, a lot of the kids had a hard time; the shakes – as if they were a drug addict,” Mehling said. “By the third day, by Wednesday, they said, ‘You know what? I feel relieved I don’t have my phone;’ especially the girls — they said they were released from drama.”

Coping was a mixed bag. Some slept better at night and got homework done sooner.

‘I know now I could live without the phone,” one student said.

“Now that I know it is always in my pocket, I am just kind of tempted to use it,” another said.

“It’s not like a necessity; it’s more like a privilege,” a third said.

‘I had better conversations with people and paid attention to more things going on,” a fourth student said.

Among the lessons learned – one student used a house phone for the first time, another re-learned to tell time from an actual clock, one opened a dictionary after never having done so before, and lastly, one wrote, “I learned my phone rules my life. #sad.”

There are 74 students in the sophomore high school English classes at Carle Place. A total of 53 succeeded, while 21 could not make a week without their phones.

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