At Adelphi, unplugged students party like it’s 1993

Cell block: Adelphi University students are enduring techno-hell on Earth this week -- and therein lies the lesson, according to author and professor Donna Freitas.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

For some Adelphi University students, this may be the hardest week of their entire collegiate careers.

Freshmen in a first-year seminar taught by visiting Associate Professor of English Donna Freitas are facing a Herculean and uniquely 21st century challenge: a full week without their smartphones.

Students attending Freitas’ “Life Unplugged (Fight the Feed)” course turned in their iPhones, Samsung Galaxy devices and other smartphones Thursday, placing them in the trusty hands of Adelphi University Public Safety for safekeeping.

The students are scheduled to meet with Freitas Nov. 12 to discuss their tech-deprived progress and/or regression, before being reunited with their phones Nov. 14, one would imagine joyously.

Donna Freitas: Answering the call.

No doubt, it will be a tough stretch for teenagers basically born with keypads in their hands, but Freitas – author of The Happiness Effect: How Social Media Is Driving A Generation To Appear Perfect At Any Cost (Oxford University Press 2017) – sees it as an essential step toward creating healthier relationships between young people and their technology.

“It is important to recognize we all need help giving [phones] up, because they’ve been designed to addict us,” Freitas said. “There is a lot of good in technology, but the way we’re approaching it is problematic.”

Freitas, a non-resident research associate at the Center for Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame and former professor at Boston University and Hofstra University, is the author of six novels for children and young adults and several nonfiction books regarding social issues, including social media.

The Brooklyn resident earned bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and Spanish from Georgetown University and a PhD in religion from The Catholic University of America.