Unplug and Connect

Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs organized Unplug and Connect events at a dozen of their facilities up and down the Valley on Friday to encourage kids and their parents to spend less time on their smartphones and more time interacting with people. One of the non-phone activities was a science experiment.

There’s so much to do if you just put your phone down.

What about street hockey? Fixing a snack? Stacking red Solo cups from floor to ceiling? Doing a science experiment? Hitting the playground? Going for a walk, hike or jog?

Simply being with friends, family, neighbours or co-workers? Sitting down for a meal, enjoying the food and talking? Or, read a book or newspaper?

Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the Valley celebrated their 60th birthday Friday with Unplug to Connect events at a dozen of their facilities.

“When kids are at one of our clubs, they are not allowed on their phones,” said Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs community engagement co-ordinator Richelle Leckey.

“We’ll use computer labs and technology sometimes for programs, but otherwise phones are off in kids’ backpacks. In that sense, every day is Unplug to Connect day at Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs.”

However, the clubs still believe it’s important to make a special event of Unplug to Connect to drive home the message of spending less time on the phone and more time with people.

“We talk with the kids about spending less time on their phones in all areas of their lives,” said Leckey.

“While we deal with kids, the Unplug to Connect message is really for all Canadians.”

As such, on Friday, Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs encouraged kids, as they do every day, to interact with others as they romp on the playground, fix snacks, do science experiments, play street hockey and — one of the favourite special activities — stack red Solo cups from floor to ceiling.

To encourage parents and the wider community to unplug as well, the clubs organized a range of special events.

They included barbecues at the Westside, Martin Avenue (Kelowna), Rutland, Penticton and Lake Country locations; a talent show in Peachland; Family Fun Day at Webber Road (West Kelowna); and cake and crafts in Armstrong.

In fact, there were cakes and balloons at all Okanagan locations to mark Unplug to Connect day and celebrate the clubs’ 60th birthday.

The Unplug and anniversary parties were held at Boys and Girls Clubs across the country.

Some 89% of teens have a smartphone, and various studies have shown a youth’s psychological well-being decreases dramatically the more time they spend on screens.

As a result, anxiety is on the rise as kids and teens feel pressure to be plugged in at all times.

Some of the statistics include 81% interrupting time with others to check their phone, 73% admitting electronic devices add stress to their life and 61% experiencing negative feelings after checking social media.

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