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TCU Student Takes Digital Detox Challenge

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - We’re all inundated with technology.   But no one more so than college students.  A walk through the heart of TCU reveals many students have developed a sixth sense allowing them to navigate around the campus with their eyes glued to their touch screen phones.  Almost all carry a phone or a tablet.  Most even confess they couldn’t go long without it.

“I think I would last maybe ten minutes,” one TCU student laughed when asked about how long she could go without using her smartphone.

But Sierra Albertson, a TCU junior is shunning almost all technology for seven days as a challenge from a professor.

“I gave my friend my phone and my iPad,” Albertson said.

They call it digital detoxing.

Her only computer time is to blog about what digital detox is like as part of her assignment and to answer e-mail from her professors.  Other than that, no TV, no radio, and worst of all, no smartphone.

“Albertson said.  “I use it as my calendar, my camera, my alarm clock.  So, it’s been really difficult trying to change things.  I don’t even know what time it is unless I’m wearing a watch.  So, I have to wear a watch now!”

A watch?  How 1980s!  And so is that alarm clock she had to dig out of a box and plug into the wall.  Albertson can still use a phone if it’s a land line.

We asked her to contact a classmate who is also in digital detox.

“He doesn’t have his phone, I don’t have mine,” Albertson said.  “So, I used a land line phone to call his parents to see if I could get the number of his roommate.  They didn’t answer so it’s like – I can’t do anything!”

Albertson says she can’t just text her sorority sisters on a whim and ask if they want to eat lunch.  She’s learned to plan ahead and leave Post-it notes on the doors of sorority sisters.

Albertson knew she’d have to adapt to a slower pace without the technology the first day she began her digital detox.

“I got locked out of my sorority house, I didn’t have my key,” Albertson said.  “Usually I would just text a friend and say, ‘Hey, I’m outside.  Can you let me in?’  But I couldn’t do that.  So, I had to sit outside on a bench for a while for someone to come let me in.”

In fact, Alberston said she’s experiencing college life almost the same way her mother did.

“It’s very similar to what my mom went through in college,” Albertson said.  “So, that’s been interesting to see how life is different and how it is totally possible to go without a cell phone.  But we’re just so dependent on them.”

But Albertson says leaving Post-it notes for friends instead of texting, walking around without ear buds and looking at a watch now again actually isn’t that bad after all.

“I’m really enjoying it. And it’s making me see after technology how I can do things differently.  Like if I go study at Starbucks I can leave my phone at home, I don’t need it.”

That being said, it is only a 7-day detox.  And, three days in, Albertson said the end still seems a long way off.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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