Principal offers $100 for students who turn off their electronics 1 day a week over summer break

A principal is offering her own money to students who stay off screens.

ByCatherine Thorbecke
June 27, 2017, 8:18 AM

— -- A school principal from Washington, D.C. is challenging her students to spend one day a week this summer without using any electronic devices, and is promising a reward of $100 -- of her own money -- for each student that completes the challenge.

"I really want the kids not mindlessly grabbing for the phone, but thinking about whether or not the phone ... is going to be their source of entertainment," Diana Smith, principal of the Washington Latin Public Charter School told ABC News.

The educator decided to find a creative way to motivate her students to disconnect from their devices, and launched the "No-Tech-Tuesday Summer Challenge," which asks students to spend each of the eleven Tuesdays over summer break completely disconnected from any of their screens. Smith is even incentivizing students with cash.

"The challenge is that they go without any screens or devices for the eleven Tuesdays of the summer and if they do that," Smith said. "I will give them $100."

The challenge is open to all 160 rising 8th and 9th graders in her school, meaning the challenge could set her back up to $16,000. Students have to prove they did not use their devices by having two adults send a letter to her, "confirming that they know, with certainty, that you had no screen time on any of the 11 summer Tuesdays," Smith wrote on the school's website.

Smith said the interest so far from students and parents has been overwhelming, and that the "kids are mostly in their competitive mode," as they embark on the challenge.

One student, 14-year-old Nikolas Davis, told ABC News that he normally spends four to six hours a day online, but since agreeing to take part in the challenge, he has been thinking about strategies for how to stay offline over summer break.

He said he hopes to "read a book, ride my bike, go running or exercise in a gym," during his newfound tech-free time.

Smith said she hopes that having the students spend time without their devices will result in long term habit changes.

"I'm hoping it will be disruptive enough to get them think about, 'Gee, maybe I liked who I was on Tuesday, and maybe I want to be like that on Wednesday and Thursday too.'" Smith said.

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