Media Unplugged: Shaping Youth Off the Grid

male-backpacker.jpgAs I mentioned earlier in this post, I’ve been needing to ‘unplug’ in a big way judging from my “828 unread e-mails” and 7,932 in my inbox. So I’m going to try a little experiment beyond being MEDIA FREE, screen free, computer and cell free…

I’m going to be FAMILY FREE. That’s right folks. All of you. I’m going off the grid. Today’s Friday the 13th, so what better time to ditch superstition and prove that nature can nurture and refresh in 24 hours better than a week long respite elsewhere?

I’m outta here. No electricity. No water. No music. No media. No family tethering me as to my whereabouts. (Dear daughter, you KNOW I’ll be fine, so trust me on this one, ‘k?) Just my gear in a pack and this great book, 98.6 Degrees, which I love and highly recommend. See ya soon…with a media moment report on Shaping Youth, unplugged. Related posts here:

Media Savvy Kids and Nature Deficit Disorder

The Nature of Tweens: Wired Worlds & Outdoor Ed

Shaping Youth Through Nature, Media Unplugged



  1. Well, how did the unplugging go? I have to say it sounds pretty nice and yet kind of scary at the same time. Did you go through any sort of media-mama withdrawl?

  2. No post today, as I got in at 2am and have been in pseudo-zombie mode!

    Without any media to check my Google map/internet live feed of the hwy traffic report, I ended up in road closure madness, down to one lane bumper to bumper driving back from Father’s Day at my folks house in the Sierra Nevada foothills into the SF Bay Area…which I could’ve easily SEEN via satellite/ Google Earth in my normal ops, but c’est la vie.

    I got to ‘practice patience’ quite a bit and take lots of deep breaths going back to my respite in nature like a ‘snapshot’ of renewal and relaxation…swinging on a hammock between two huge trees overlooking a gorgeous lake waaaaaaaaaaay off the grid…Truthfully, I could’ve stayed awol for a week if I could…just the sound of the wind and the crickets and frogs and the nearby stream.

    Another benefit of being ‘family free/media free’?

    My last words as I headed for the hills were hearing the squawkings of my daughter wanting to use her dogsitting money for an ipod nano and her dad grousing from afar for her to wait for her b-day, as the two of them lobbied and auto-dialed me back and forth like two tattle tale toddlers in a ‘he-said/she-said’ argument, until ‘oopsie’ golly gosh, cell phone went outta range! Pretty funny, actually, as it was a ‘forced resolution’ btwn the two of them with me awol and unavail.

    I think I’ll add that to my ‘magic media moments’ war chest next time I get sucked into a sidebar conversation or recruited as a referee, as a dear friend of mine says, “sometimes you just gotta say, ‘I don’t have a dog in this fight!’ 😉

    On a peacefulness/pragmatic note:

    The whole experience made me vow to take my outdoorsy but urbanista daughter camping one on one with me…not just ‘off the grid’ like I did last year in Colorado for outdoor ed at my folks’ solar cabin, but ‘tent’ camping in ‘what would you do if’ style…

    I kept thinking about the phrase that kids will “protect what they know” and therefore we need to expose them to nature, or they won’t have a touchpoint to connect with…If they can’t relate to it, they won’t bond/engage/personally take ownership of the natural resources we have, which trickles down into buying patterns (e.g. water bottle toting, consumerist trashmakers)

    So I love the whole green teen movement as it’s youth helping youth seed the need so to speak…

  3. Brave.

    But honestly a good idea. I do this approximately twice each summer when I take between 4 and 7 days in the Yosemite backcountry (this is “designated wilderness”). Phones do not work. Not even SMS. (Unless you go to the top of a mountain, but when you’re up there it’s about the last thing you’re thinking about.)

    What’s scary is the thought that the servers might go down while I’m unavailable. I leave a backup person in charge, and so far I’ve been lucky that nothing has crashed while I was invisible.

  4. Nothing brave about this one…it was a total cush trip…but yes, I think the wilderness/media-free moments are a must.

    And in fact, it needn’t be ‘survival stuff’ but even a calm, coastal respite…for as you know, Sky, I want to have our Shaping Youth Board retreat here at because it literally accommodates ALL levels of nature lovers.

    In fact, I just sent this link to Michael Carter at Zookazoo when we were talking about media overload and virtual worlds telling him he should ‘get away before he turns into ME’!!!

    He hadn’t heard of Costanoa, which is kind of a hybrid form of yuppie camping in that they have wireless access even on the mountain tops, so you can literally go for a hike and bring your laptop to blog with an ocean view from above! (it’s down by the Ano Nuevo elephant seals)

    It defeats the purpose of not being reachable, but embraces exposing some folks to even the most basic outdoor environs so they can pick and choose their level of comfort, from tent cabins to lodge…

    Needless to say, your Yosemite ritual sounds divine to me…but sometimes when I CAN’T get away (as you say, invisible is one thing, physically cut off altogether is another) it serves a similar purpose of finding a tad of perspective and renewal.

  5. Sky, I should add that I just found danah boyd’s great piece on your DL blog about whether work/life/balance exists…

    Thanks for that…I think it certainly applies here…and, um…I guess I should ‘blog it!’ 😉

  6. And I missed this piece with the analogy of blogs as digital sweatshops…as I haven’t yet gone that route on the monetization front for the nonprofit, but clearly should look into how to syndicate some of this vast content to support the org…Sky, add that to our strategy session, ‘k?!

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