Unplugged – A global media experiment

Unplugged - A global media experiment24 hours without media. No internet, no mobiles, no TV… The  biggest global media experiment. Ever.




Hundreds of Bournemouth University (BU) first years are sacrificing  their TVs, mobile phones, the internet and all other gadgets for 24 hours as  they take part in a groundbreaking global media experiment called ‘Unplugged’.

BU Lecturer in Communication and Journalism, Dr Roman  Gerodimos, is leading ‘Unplugged’ in the UK. He  said: “We expect many students will find it challenging, especially after the  first few hours. It will be interesting to see whether and how they adapt their  daily routines for these 24 hours and obviously how many of them make it to the  end.”

‘Unplugged’ is a collaboration  between universities and researchers from five continents – Europe, North America, South America, Asia, & Africa. It  examines young people’s relationships with the media, including news, music,  television, mobiles, the internet and all other types of media and technology. BU  students are the only UK students taking part.

A pilot study conducted in the US last year  revealed some astounding results: “Students reported  feeling withdrawal symptoms that were similar to drug or alcohol addiction,”  Roman said. “The words ‘addiction’ and ‘dependence’ kept recurring in their  narratives. They felt they lost connection with friends and family, even those  living nearby, but also thought that the study was an eye-opener as it gave  them the opportunity to reflect on the extent to which the media is part of  their lives.”

Students record their experiences in  a short, blog-style essay and fill in a questionnaire. Researchers want to hear  back from everyone who took part, even those who did not manage to go the full  24 hours without media. Roman explained: “The reasons for which they dropped  out (if they did) or the media, applications or activities that they most  missed are key to our understanding of their relationship with the media.”

The results of the experiment are likely to have a  considerable impact on technology education as Roman explained: “At an  educational level it could benefit our learning and teaching strategies, but it  could also make us more sensitive to young people’s needs for  socialisation and awareness. Subsequently, this experiment could inform the way  we develop technologies and media applications for young people and especially  for particular demographic groups, such as students who live away from  home.  The issue of digital  inequalities (or “the digital divide”) is also very important as  the experiment can enhance our understanding of how students from different  backgrounds access the media.”

Students can choose any consecutive 24 hours, between 18-24 October 2010, to take part in ‘Unplugged’.

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