Emma Willard School’s independent programs enable girls to pursue projects they feel strongly about. Senior Aira A. saw her family’s struggle with balancing screen time in their lives and was inspired to research the topic further, ultimately launching the company Bye Bye Screen and publishing “7 Step Digital Cleanse for Families,” now available on Amazon.
Communications spoke with Aira to learn more about her project and milestones she has reached. Read the full Q&A below!
Have you always aspired to be an entrepreneur?
Since middle school, I have interacted with several trailblazing entrepreneurs in the local community and have had the opportunity to build my own business models. Through these experiences, I found that entrepreneurship gives you the ability to carve your own path and be creative and authentic with your solutions. The chance to actually help people has always made entrepreneurship enticing to me and it is something I hope to continue pursuing in the future!
What inspired you to develop Bye Bye Screen and write “7 Step Digital Cleanse for Families”? How did you come to develop your seven steps?
Bye Bye Screen started with my family. Last year, I realized that my twelve-year-old brother, my four-year-old sister, and I used our screens during every free moment. To put it simply, we were hooked on technology! And I wanted to help my parents fix this problem.
This is when my research, experimentation, and observations started. My Google searches suggested taking away children’s devices “cold-turkey” or never giving kids screens in the first place. Neither method was reasonable for my family, so I decided to create my own system and slowly started implementing it in my house. After my family’s relationship to technology started improving, I thought my ideas could help others. This is when I launched Bye Bye Screen. My book, 7 Step Digital Cleanse for Families, is based off of my family’s experience with handling screens and discusses a holistic family approach to screen time.
Screen time is a topic many families are grappling with in our ever-connected culture, what have you learned through your research and writing process?
One of the most important things I have come to understand is that there is no one set solution to the challenge of screen time. Every family is different and uses their technology for varying purposes, which means one technique is not going to work for everyone. Throughout the research and writing process, I was truly forced to stay open-minded to the endless possibilities of tackling screen time as well as dealing with the likelihood that the suggestions I offer through my platform will not work for every family.
You have presented your work at schools including Woodland Hill Montessori School and most recently on the Women Really Mean Business podcast. What feedback have you gotten?
Talking specifically about Bye Bye Screen, I think it surprises many that I am a teenager and trying to come up with a solution to the challenge of screen time. Many available resources or guides on managing technology are from adults/parents which is why Bye Bye Screen provides a fresh perspective on the issue. But more simply, the platform aims to help parents understand screens from their children’s point of view.
On the other hand, I am always reminded of how pervasive technology is. Every time I talk to someone about Bye Bye Screen, I get a reaction along the lines of “I know someone who could use that.” This just confirms that screen time is such a global issue that so many people face. Listen to Aira on the Women Really Mean Business podcast.
As a technology enthusiast yourself, how do you find a balance between screen time activities and your other hobbies and obligations?
As a teen who loves Instagram and Netflix, putting my phone down can be really difficult, but working on Bye Bye Screen helped me become more aware of how much time I was spending on screens. This is why, along with the rest of my family, I try to follow the 7 Steps
and cut out the distraction of screens. For more specifics, check out 7 Step Digital Cleanse for Families which is available on Amazon