We’re done! We don’t want to be fuddy-duddys from the older generation who say “kids today,” but someone’s gotta do it. Trackers began as a rebel organization fighting against the idea that children need to be coddled and handled with kid gloves. So we’re straight up calling it out: social media and most electronic platforms are creating an unhealthy addiction for our kids and teens. This is leading to rapidly rising rates of anxiety and depression in our kids.
You Agree With Us, You Really Agree With Us!
Most of you agree. A study by the Pew Research Institute found that 71% of parents with a child under the age of 12 are concerned their child is spending too much time in front of screens.
Research also shows that kids today are suffering from anxiety and depression more than ever before. This correlates to time spent on screens. The less time kids spend in front of screens and the more time they spend playing with friends, getting outdoors, and doing meaningful activities in real life, anxiety and depression go way down. They are happier.
Stats are great. But here’s what we observe in the field. Youth are given unrealistic expectations of fashion that have no value to their real life. Addiction is driven by an algorithm that rewards extreme usage, behavior, and opinions. Apps are designed to be slot machines: pull down the screen, wait for the spinning wheel, and maybe or maybe not get a reward. It’s a straight up gambling addiction, but trading out money for something even more compelling… “Friends,” upvotes, likes. It’s conditioning us all, like Pavlov’s dogs.
The Deeper Truth
There’s something even more insidious happening. The predation on our kids’ natural need for social validation creates a self-focused human being who can only function when everyone agrees with, approves of, or accommodates their desires. This is the opposite of Trackers. At Trackers you find adventure through embracing challenges with resilience and grit. At Trackers, adventure is a coyote who does what it wants guiding us into the unknown.
Even deeper, this constantly reinforced self-absorption is fundamentally unhealthy. It prevents kids from becoming independent, competent humans capable of contributing to their families, community, and the greater natural world.
The current human world bombards kids (and all of us) with an onslaught of subtle and extreme messages telling them they cannot function without digital friend validation and consumption of pop culture. How can any of us stop it when we find ourselves immersed in this world?
Our job at Trackers is to become diplomats for a world that needs to exist! When the modern human world fails us, we turn to something more primary. A human world connected to a more-than-human-world. Our motto is Nature Doesn’t Give a Fox! Meaning, you aren’t the center of the natural world. There are bigger things going on than your experience.
That’s the stepping stone for real adventure. To a world that offers wondrous opportunities, but not the obsession for validation. As a “Tracker” a kid’s community becomes a team of fellow kids (their Trackers Team) they come to rely on. This connection is in-person, real, and physical. Nature becomes the true “like” button. Do something well—start a fire, sleep warm in your shelter, catch a fish—you don’t die. Do something dumb, you have no food, you’re cold, you’re hungry.
This is fun! Believe us.
More importantly, kids’ brains begin to form and pattern on stepping up to any challenge. They begin caretaking beyond themselves—for both the human and natural world. Our Trackers Guides simply help a team of kids interface directly with nature on its terms. Spoon-feeding algorithms need not apply.
Free Our Kids
Right now, we plan to do our part regarding this epidemic. Trackers camps will be a screen-free place for your kids (and adults). A place we can get away from social media. Where kids spend hours connecting with other (real) kids and nature. They have real adventures in the real world.
Drumroll, our New No Phones Policy…
Trackers No Phones Policy
At Trackers we believe it’s critical for kids to experience nature and community without being distracted by phones. Games and Social Media are designed to capture kids’ attention and keep them hooked. We are teaching kids how to Pay Attention and we want them to get hooked on the plants and animals around them. Searching online gives kids instant gratification. At Trackers we want them to stick with skills, even when they are challenging. They’re here to develop resilience and grit.
To accomplish these goals, we need Trackers (our students) to leave their phones and other internet and gaming devices at home while participating in our programs. Trackers staff follow similar rules. During program time they only use phones for operational purposes (maps, emergency calls, etc), not for entertainment.
We recommend stopping your child’s cell phone and internet use 2 days (or more) before the start of their Trackers program. Any phones or devices brought to a Trackers camp or class will be collected at the beginning of the program, stored safely, and returned to the owner at the end of the program. Your child will have a much richer experience because of your support.