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New workshop helps youth monitor screen time, improve mental health

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A special seminar is helping students reset their relationship with technology.

Project Reboot is a digital wellness workshop in partnership with Santa Barbara's Mental Wellness Center. The curriculum focuses on the neuro-science behind smartphone addictions.

Participants also analyze personal screen time and discuss accountability, with the goal of teaching students how to use their devices in productive ways – not harmful ones.

Dino Ambrosi, the founder of Project Reboot, was inspired by his own tech struggles as a student at UC Berkeley.

"So I actually took three semesters off from school, fixed my digital habits, and used my devices to actively benefit my life and I noticed so many positive changes," said Ambrosi said.

The program's curriculum gives youth the opportunity to take charge of their schedule and their personal time and better their mental wellness, said Annmarie Cameron, CEO of the Mental Wellness Center.

"A lot of what we spoke about was the dopamine that we get from it and how we're neurologically affected by our devices," said Dawson Kelly, a local student.

"I think we're constantly distracted and overstimulated by our devices. I felt that a lot of things that I'm wanting to do with my life are not happening due to my relationship with my phone."

Ambrosi said using his phone in school as an escape from "discomfort" sparked his tech addiction. He pointed out that this is the first time in human history that we have a source of "instant gratification" in our pockets at all times.

"(The program) was definitely inspired by my own struggle to build a healthy relationship with tech," he said. "I went off to college in 2017 and quickly started to use my phone as an escape from discomfort, which spiraled me into a tech addiction. It really hampered my college experience."

Ambrosi said re-training habits and routines and tapping into powerful, productive tools is the best use Ambrosi said that he doesn't recommend deleting all apps and throwing away the phones, but encourages learning how to re-train habits and routines and tapping into the powerful tools in productive ways.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
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Jade Martinez-Pogue

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