Branson teens take week-long break from social media

Branson, Mo. -- Students in Branson are taking on a big challenge this week by staying off of social media.

"All social media and entertainment like Netflix and YouTube," President of the Interact Club Macy Scott said. "None of that."

About 60 Branson High School students are going, almost, screen-free.

"I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is check my phone. So, this morning I went to check my phone and realized we started this social media fast," Student Brooke Hunn said.

"That's how we stay close and in-touch," Student Maggi Eighmy said. "Now, I look at my phone and nothing is on there because I deleted all my apps this morning."

Aside from using their computer for school work, these teens are offline.

"It's going to break the habit of checking my phone, just to fill the time," Student Gatlin Myer said.

The challenge started when the school's Interact Club, which is the high school branch of rotary club, took on a challenge given to them by the Branson/Hollister Rotary Club. Rotary Club members also pledged donations if the students accepted the challenge.

"Once one individual put up $500 dollars, peer pressure took hold and when we were finished, we had over $2,000," School Superintendent and Rotary Club Member Dr. Brad Swofford said. "I believe more will be pledged this week."

The club will use that money to do good throughout the community.

"We are going to be focusing on children's organizations," Interact Club Sponsor Ashleigh Hawkins said.

However, the students say, that's not the only benefit of the break from social media.

"It's also more personal for me to use my time more wisely and to learn more about myself now, this week, than I have the whole time I've been on social media," Interact Club Vice President Keaton Wilczynski said.

Teachers say in a world of constant comparisons, it's a good for students to take a step back.

"If they don't get a certain amount of likes, they feel like the moment wasn't worthy or they are not worthy," Hawkins said.

The break allows them to evaluate their own reliance on social media.

"I think we will all be more aware of how much time we spend on our phones," Student Jose Gomez said.

Club members hold participants accountable throughout the challenge by checking the students' phones. By going into settings, they're able to see screen time and which apps they've been using.