Students eligible

# who tried

# met the Challenge

$ Principal Smith paid

The No-Tech-Tuesday Challenge

At last year’s 7-8th grade Valediction, I challenged the 160 students to commit to NO screen time of any kind for each of the 11 Tuesdays this summer break, from June 13 through August 22. With each No-Tech-Tuesday, students experienced life without the ever-present screen so integral to our modern life.

The response to this Challenge has been wonderful. Many students, both in these designated grades and beyond, took on the Challenge. Some parents did too, and it has been interesting to hear how many adults have said either they could not do it or didn’t even want to try. I received reflections from students who said it was especially hard in the beginning, but many also said it was ultimately liberating. I am most delighted to hear that students came to understand the power of habit and especially their ability to CHANGE their habits, if they choose. This knowledge will serve them well, in managing technology and many other aspects of life.

On Tuesday, August 29, we held our special assembly for the 8th and 9th graders, at which we heard from Challenge participants and honored those who made it the full 11 Tuesdays without screens. Thirty-four of them received a $100 bill, though four students did the Challenge but declined to accept the monetary award, explaining the reason I handed out $3,400 rather than $3,800.*

As we return to the routine of the school year, I hope all will remember the primary lesson of this Challenge:

Limits free you!

Diana Smith, Principal

Resources & Reading


There are numerous resources on this page, including phone contracts, a blog on managing technology, parenting apps, research, and more. Visit now, visit again later – their content is regularly updated.

Atlantic Magazine

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The Atlantic Magazine, September 2017

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.

Melinda Gates on Kids and Technology

“Melinda Gates: I spent my career in technology. I wasn’t prepared for its effect on my kids,” Washington Post, August 24, 2017

Phone apps aren’t good or bad in themselves, but they can exacerbate the difficulties of growing up.

New Kind of Social Anxiety

“A New Kind of Social Anxiety in the Classroom,” The Atlantic Magazine, January 2015

Kids who constantly use phones and computers tend to be more nervous in face-to-face conversation.

Studying With Your Smart Phone?

Studying With Your Smartphone? That’s Not So Smart, Washington Monthly, August 2017

The mere presence of your smartphone reduces brain power, a recent study shows.


WJLA Features No Tech Challenge

Is there an appropriate age for kids to get their first cell phone? by Amy Aubert/ABC7, Wednesday, November 15th 2017 WASHINGTON (ABC7) — “If I let them be on these devices all the time, they would be,” said Diana Smith, Principal at the Washington Latin Public...

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The Rules of the Challenge

Principal Smith will award $100 to all 8-9th grade students (enrolled at Latin for 2017-18) who achieve the conditions outlined below!

  • WHEN: from 12:00 am  to 11:59 pm each Tuesday from June 13 to August 22, 2017
  • WHAT: no screens, including but not limited to – computers, TV, movies (in theatre or on a device), Kindles, iPads, iPods, iPhones, other smart phones, video game consoles (Wii, Play Station, XBox, Nintendo Switch), hand-held video games (on your phone, iPod, Kindle, iPad, Apple Watch, Gameboy, Nintendo DS, Atari, PSVita, etc.), and any others we have not named but that are out there and in use – this list is a sampling, not a definitive list. Bottom line: no screens!
  • SIGN UP: Use the button to tell me that you are accepting my challenge.
  • WHY: The idea is for you to discipline yourself. It is like fasting (no food or drink for a period of time) in order to feel and understand what happens to your life when you go without. Live without the screens for a day a week and see what happens.
  • HOW: Stay off screens for each Tuesday (24-hours) and make sure you have two adults who will attest that you did so. Their testimony must be in writing and delivered to me by August 24, 2017. Each student needs to assume responsibility for figuring out the challenges posed by not having access to screens for 24 hours. For example, if you have Latin summer school and a video is assigned in class Tuesday for the next day, a student could wake up early to watch that video. If your friends invite you to the movies on Tuesday, you need to take a rain check.
  • EXCEPTIONS: Our students may use their phones ONLY for calling or receiving calls from their parents/guardians. Call a friend instead to chat? Nope, that knocks you out. Take a picture on your phone? Nope. That is not allowed either. Simply put, no screens.
  • PROVE IT: At the end of the summer, no later than August 25, 2017, have two adults each send a letter to me confirming that they know, with certainty, that you had no screen time on any of the 11 summer Tuesdays.