When Littleton teen Kade Kurowski met up with a group of friends three years ago, none of them expected a national movement to begin that day. At the time, Kurowski, just 13 years old, and his friends felt troubled after hearing of multiple youth suicides in their community. They met up to talk about how they were feeling. “After talking, we thought that social media was one of the bigger causes of poor mental health,” says Kurowski. “We wanted to challenge ourselves and others to get off of social media for a month.”
Taking the Pledge
The Offline October pledge came out of that day’s discussions. By taking the pledge, individuals agree to give up social media accounts during the month of October, with a goal of spending more time with family and friends, getting outside, meeting new people, and participating in community events. The pledge has been featured on the Today show and Colorado Public Radio.
Kurowski, now 16 years old and attending Heritage High School in Littleton, has learned a lot from three years of Offline October, and deleting all social media apps from his phone has impacted his everyday life. He quickly realized that he had been spending at least two hours a day between Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. Even more so, he’s noticed the impact it has had on his in-person interactions with friends and classmates.
“My birthday is in October and usually people would just send out little happy birthday messages on Snapchat,” says Kurowski. “But now they all know I’m off social media and wish me happy birthday in person.”
Support Around the World
So far, more than 1,800 pledges have been made to turn off social media in October, from students in more than 300 schools, 30 states, and more than 10 countries. While Offline October is targeted toward kids and teens, parents aren’t limited from taking the pledge. The students behind the organization have seen many of their own parents and friends’ parents take the pledge after seeing the commitment their kids make.
After Offline October
Kurowski hopes that when November 1 comes and participants are considering using social media again, that they use it in a healthy manner.
“I hope that they understand that using social media every day isn’t necessary and that hanging out with friends and family is 100 percent more valuable than Snapchat or Instagram,” says Kurowski. “Sometimes people have chosen afterward to get rid of social media for the rest of the year, and I think that’s the best possible result.”
Ultimately, the students behind Offline October believe that the pledge is meant for people to realize the importance of human relationships and the happiness that can come from direct human interaction. “Instead of spending time on social media, I actually have time to hang out with friends, meet new people, and try new things,” says Kurowski.
Visit offlineoctober.com to take the pledge to turn off social media this October.