Local ‘Offline October’ Initiative Spreads Worldwide

By Jamie Leary

LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – One month after a group of students in Littleton launched Offline October, the results have exceeded expectations.

“I learned that Snapchat is a waste of time, and you’re not missing out when you don’t have it. You’re missing out when you do,” said Owen Hearty, an 8th grader at Goddard Middle School.

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CBS4 covered the initiative when it launched.

It was a response to recent suicides in the Littleton Public School District.

A group of 25 students got together, asking others to take a pledge: no social media for the entire month.

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(credit: CBS)

Goddard Middle School had the most students take the pledge.

Principal Bryan Brewer found the campaign so successful, he sent a letter to parents on Monday saying Goddard is banning cellphone use in the school, permanently.

“It’s become more negative than positive, and so many new applications have been created and really cell phone usage is very different than it was 5 years ago,” said Brewer. “It stresses kids out. There’s messages that are pushed to your phone now, you don’t actually have to go and get them, they are actually pushed to the screen on your phone and it changes your ability to focus on anything.”

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(credit: CBS)

A handful of students who CBS4 spoke with say they didn’t realize their efforts would result in a permanent cellphone ban, but noticed a positive difference.

“In the beginning I was bored, but when you’re bored you come up with new stuff to do, so I can go ride my bike and play with friends,” said Thomas Jackson, an 8th grader. “I don’t know it’s just a weird… magical feeling,” said Jackson.

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CBS4’s Jamie Leary talks with students from Goddard Middle School. (credit: CBS)

Some students say they will go back to using Snapchat and other forms of social media.

“My hope is that they learn. There’s a whole lot of things happening in life that don’t involve social media,” said Brewer. He believes banning cellphones in school for every student can make that happen.

“Really communicating with parents that the minute that they walk in at 7:50 in the morning, to the minute that they leave at 2:50 in the afternoon, that students are not able to use their cellphones in the building at all,” said Brewer. “In Littleton, we provide all of our kids with Chrome books. They don’t need their phones for any educational purposes whatsoever,” said Brewer.

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(credit: CBS)

Some have already learned valuable lessons by pledging to take the month of October off social media.

“I am definitely going to be more aware of how much i’m using it, how much I’m using it and for what reasons I’m using it,” said Hearty.

Other schools across the state have cellphone bans in place, and while it’s a first for Goddard, Littleton students can be proud that they paved the way for a now-international, Offline October Movement.

LINK: Offline October

Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.

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