‘Social NOTworking’ week encourages students to ‘disconnect to reconnect’

Story by Cooper Nelson
Photos by Tyler McDonald
GCU News Bureau

Put your smartphone down, log out of Facebook and stop tweeting: GCU is urging students to disconnect from social media and to reconnect personally this week.

Grand Canyon University’s Canyon Activities Board (CAB), the events arm of Associated Students of GCU student government, is hosting “Social NOTworking,” an initiative to encourage students to spend less time on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and more time forming relationships with peers.

Social NOTworking, which starts with a pledge event today, include activities every day for student interaction. After making the pledge, students will sign a board with the slogan “disconnect to reconnect” and take a photo. They'll be asked to post both to their Facebook pages. For more information, click here.

Events include:

  • A signup to pledge to refrain from visiting any social media sites for the rest of the week, today after Chapel, outside GCU Arena. Free reminder bracelets will be distributed.
  • A message from Dean of Students Pastor Tim Griffin on disconnecting from social communications and learning how to reconnect through other channels at theGathering service, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Antelope Gym
  • “Chat Snaps and Insta-Fam,” featuring a handwritten letter station and a Polaroid photo booth, 11 a.m. Wednesday, Student Union Promenade
  • “Speed Friending,” patterned after speed dating, only to meet friends, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Quad
  • “Hashtag Games,” human tic-tac-toe, capture the flag and more, 7 p.m. Thursday, Intramural Field
  •  “Jump in the Ball Pit,” in which pairs enter a ball pit and answer questions written on the balls, 11 a.m. Friday, Student Union Promenade

Jeff Whye, student activities coordinator, said GCU’s Office of Student Engagement developed the idea during a retreat in November. He hopes the social media blackout will spread a message throughout the GCU community to spend less time online and more time interacting face-to-face.

“This event stemmed from what we see daily, students constantly on their cell phones or computers, and the biggest culprits are high school and college-aged students,” Whye said. “These sites that were designed to connect us more actually have distanced us from connecting socially and relationally. Hopefully, this week will start conversations between people and encourage change.”

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013 found that nearly 87 percent of Internet users ages 18-30 years old visit social media sites at least once a day. The majority spend 45 minutes to more than an hour on social media a week. Business Insider reported that Americans spend more time on social media than any other online activity. The same report found that nearly 60 percent of social media time is spent on smartphones.

GCU junior and CAB director Lauren Booth admits she is part of the problem.

Booth said she checks social media sites “every 20 minutes” but is excited to spend a week away and meet new people. She and the other 29 members of CAB already have taken the pledge.

“I often find myself on my phone looking at Facebook or Instagram or something as I’m walking to class and I miss people saying ‘hi’ to me because I constantly have my face in my phone,” said Booth, 21, a pre-dental and business dual major, who will help facilitate events this week.

“(Not going on social media for a week) is going to be tough, even for me. I think we’re setting the expectations high and hopefully this will carry over for more than just this event.”

Whye wants students to understand that this week is not meant to demonize social networking, but to encourage a change in how students interact on campus.

“Social networking, in and of itself, is not a bad thing” Whye said. “Food is not bad for us but we still fast. This is just something we should look at giving up in order to focus on what’s more important.”

Contact Cooper Nelson at 602-639-7511 or [email protected]

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Bible Verse

David said to Michal, "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when He appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel — I will celebrate before the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:21)

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