Project Reconnect

After recognizing a lack of youth resources to cope with device addiction, I came up with this idea.

Photo of Aditi
5 1

Written by

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

October 28, 2000

Help us stay in touch!

(609)670-0379 New Jersey: Princeton Jct (08550)

Date You Started Your Project Started

September 24, 2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Humans are biologically wired to crave connectedness, and technology offers us a shortcut to that social interaction we naturally crave. So, instead of looking for belonging in the real world, we turn to the one (literally) at our fingertips. This online connection, however, is not a substitute for the real thing, and when people behave as such, studies demonstrate a clear correlation between engagement with technology and mental ailments.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Although 50% of teens feel addicted to their device, it’s hard to disconnect when technology is such an integral part of society. It’s even harder when there are limited resources with accesible content and applicable tips for teenagers. We hope to publish a book grounded in research that helps kids foster a healthier relationship with technology. Because such a book would only reach kids aware of the problem, we hope this book can be introduced to the national school curriculum and taught under the broader umbrella of health. Device addiction risks our well being just as smoking does. Given that smoking rates among teens first decreased when its health detriments were taught in school, we believe the same can happen for device addiction. By reading passages of the book, we hope that students will at least think about how much they use their phone and what steps to take for a healthier relationship with technology.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

This past summer, I read (and reread more times than I am willing to admit) "Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked" by Adam Alter. The book packaged Alter's research so that his audience would not only understand the severity of device addiction but also be equipped with strategies to cultivate a healthy relationship with technology. As its title suggests, I could not put the book down, for its content resonated with my own experience. Inspired to rethink how I use devices, I searched Google for a similar book that spoke specifically to children and young adults; however, I searched to no avail. Now, we want to create that book I could not find online, one that uses research to specifically help children and young adults cultivate a healthy relationship with technology.

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

For the longest time, I felt as if I was born to the wrong generation because constantly using devices exhausted me; nevertheless, I made an effort to keep up with memes and trends because I did not want to be alone: not included in online inside jokes and being the only one that felt this way. Only after reading "Irresistible" after graduating high school, however, did I realize this reaction to constantly using devices is not only normal: it's biological. For other kids like me (but for who may not meet the age minimum of "Irresistible"'s target audience), this book would shed light on the fact that they are not the only ones who feel exhausted after staring at a screen. Furthermore, the audience will be equipped with strategies on how to overcome this dependence, which they can chose to act upon if they deem necessary in their own lives.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Our growing dependence on devices is a new issue, so it follows that there are not many resources to address the issue. “Irresistable” effectively and engagingly addresses it, but the book is not catered to youth, for whom the issue will only worsen as technology advances. I want to package that information in a way that sticks with kids. Device dependence is a new issue, so most schools do not address its risks in their curriculum. I believe knowledege is power; thus, incorporating skills and information to cultivate a healthier relationship with technology will empower youth to do so.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

By the amount of books we sell and number of schools that incorporate said book into their curriculum, we will know we are making a difference. Furthermore, with the next phase of the project described below, we can grasp how effectively we are making a difference by the number of kids who attend these “Reconnect Events”.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

In his book, Adam Alter challenges the reader to not think about apples for thirty seconds. Well, of course you would think of apples: how else can you make sure you aren’t thinking of them? However, given the tip to think of oranges instead of apples, readers better accomplish that task. Similarly, disconnecting from your device is not as easy as putting the phone away: there need to be substitutes for what you can do with that time. The next phase of this project would be hosting events (sports tournaments, dances, art sessions, etc.) to introduce kids to activities outside their phone.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Writing/Editing

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media


Join the conversation:

Photo of Stormy Barajas

Hello Aditi, In reading about Project Reconnect you have a starting point. I would challenge you to include additional research on what it would take for this to be implemented into the national school curriculum. I encourage you to go and speak with a school about your idea and see if they would support a project like this so you have additional insight and actions for this project.

Photo of Aditi

Thank you so much for taking the time to review this idea, Stormy! With your suggestion for a first step, I asked a few former elementary school teachers for input, and their positive feedback opened my eyes to how I can make this idea a reality.
In short, I truly appreciate your feedback!

Photo of Stormy Barajas

That is awesome!!!

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