By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
It seems like a simple premise: Put down your cellphone and turn off your computer for 48 hours to experience a life disconnected from modern technology.
But in a three-nation experiment with three normal, active people, Motorola — the creator of the very first smart phone — and the Discovery Channel show how psychologically and emotionally dependent we have all become on our electronic links with the outside world.
“The Disconnected Challenge,” a new, 30-minute, real-life documentary of the three people — a Mexican wedding planner, an Argentine dancer and a Brazilian marketing student — during their two-day disconnect ordeal both showcases how much people today depend on their phones and computers to get through their daily activities and invites the viewing public to consider reevaluating their own phone-life balance.
Last year, Motorola conducted a worldwide study led by Harvard University behavior psychologist Nancy Etcoff on the emotional relationship between people and the internet, and how forcing them to give up their electronic connectivity can impact their relationships with family members and friends.
That study revealed that more than half of people today have less direct contact with those who are close to them because they are overly distracted by their cell phones.
It also revealed that relationship disorders rooted in excessive dependency on smartphone technology was most common among younger people, and that 53 percent of the so-called Generation Z (born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s) consider their cell phones to be their “best friend.”
The study likewise revealed that 65 percent of smartphone users enter into some degree of panic when they lose access to it or cannot find it.
The message conveyed in the documentary is that, while it may be difficult to ween ourselves away from the internet, the end result is almost always positive.
The documentary also discusses ways to help people to become less dependent on their cell phones.
“The Disconnected Challenge” will air in Mexico at 11:15 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27.