Eagle River Secondary Grade 9 student Cody Hutchinson spearheaded the Digital Detox Challenge in which participants will give up their cell phones during school days for two weeks straight. (Contributed)

Eagle River Secondary Grade 9 student Cody Hutchinson spearheaded the Digital Detox Challenge in which participants will give up their cell phones during school days for two weeks straight. (Contributed)

Sicamous student challenges himself, peers to go nine school days cell phone free

Cody Hutchinson hopes Digital Detox Challenge will give students opportunity to reconnect

Cody Hutchinson is optimistic he and fellow Eagle River Secondary students will be able to attend school for nine days straight without looking at a cell phone.

The Grade 9 student recently received a $500 grant through the McCreary Centre Society to conduct something of an experiment at the school – a Digital Detox Challenge.

From Feb. 1 to 11, at the start of each school day, participating students are required to sign in their cell phones at the school office. The phones must remain there, turned off, throughout the day. They cannot be used at breaks, and can only be signed out when students are ready to leave. Even if participants are at home for the day, they must not use their phones during school hours.

As an incentive, the grant money will go towards prizes to be won.

Hutchinson admits he uses his cell phone at school more than he’d like to, and that it’s a difficult behaviour to break. But he’s excited about giving it a go.

“I think it’s going to work out great,” said Hutchinson. “I think this is going to be awesome for our school. I think people are going to really like this.”

The challenge was prompted in part by social behaviours Hutchinson witnesses daily at school – students focused more on their phones outside of class instead of talking to one another in person.

“You see a lot of people walk around with their phones and phones are such a big part of our lives now and you don’t see too many people socializing as much…,” said Hutchinson. “It’s almost hard to talk to people because you never know if they have an earbud in their ear, a wireless earbud. Or, you know, you go to say something to somebody and you look over and you realize they’re staring right at their phone.”

Hutchinson shared his concerns with Principal Mark Marino and together they considered ways to disconnect students from their devices in order to reconnect with each other.

Inspired by a viewing of the The Social Dilemma, a documentary that explores the consequences of an increasing dependency on social media, Marino said he tried a similar experiment with a Grade 9 science class before Christmas. He asked students if they would be willing to give him their phones for the day.

“I think I had about 11 phones,” said Marino. “And what I noted at lunch that day is that kids were actually interacting in our commons area down below, playing air hockey and foosball, instead of five kids lined up on a bench, on their screens, which normally happens – in every school, not just here. And they’re probably snapchatting each other… the person right next to them.”

Read more: B.C. doctor weighs in on the kid ‘screen time’ debate

Read more: COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Part of the detox challenge involves a viewing of The Social Dilemma, as well as having conversations around mental health and alternative ways to connect.

“You want kids to recognize how much time they’re actually on their phone. You want kids to start self-regulating,” said Marino. “This is hopefully showing kids what it’s like without a phone. When you have some conversations with kids about their cell phones and the number of hours they’re on their phones, we have heard ranges of 10 to 18 hours a day… which is scary.”

Marino recognizes, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions, that devices play a role in staying connected outside of school. But for the same reason, he explained, it is important to make the most of opportunities during school days for in-person connections.

Hutchinson is hopeful the Digital Detox Challenge will show participants a correlation between minimal cell phone use, happiness and attention span.

“I hope that people will realize, ‘hey, I was a lot more into stuff when I was without my cell phone – I was more excited to do things… It was nice actually having a conversation,” said Hutchinson. “I hope people will take away from it that it’s helpful for their social life.”

Hutchinson also wouldn’t mind seeing other schools in School District 83 conduct their own digital detox events.

“That would be awesome – start a trend,” said Hutchinson.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CellphonesSicamous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

EZ Rock will now be run remotely from Salmon Arm, before being taken over by Revelstoke in the long term. (Claire Palmer photo)
Golden loses fan favourite EZ Rock radio host in Bell layoffs

Chris Cameron first came to Golden in 2012

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Castlegar’s Gabrielle Herle (right) will be one of the speakers at the conference. She is seen here with Wendy Gaskill from Chinook Scaffolding accepting their Contractor of the Year Award in 2019 from the Builders Code Champion Awards. Photo: Submitted
Girls in STEAM and Leadership Conference offered free for all girls in the Kootenay Boundary

Virtual conference for girls in grades 8 to 12 will be taking place on March 8

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Interior Health reported 43 new COVID-19 cases in the region Feb. 23, 2021 and no additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
43 new cases of COVID reported in Interior Health

No new deaths, Williams Lake outbreak over

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Royal LePage Place, along with the adjacent Jim Lind Arena are the two ice arenas operated by the City of West Kelowna..—Image credit: contributed
$442,200 to replace aging ammonia chiller at West Kelowna arena

West Kelowna is the recipient of a provincial grant to replace the ammonia chiller

The husband wife team of Brett Turner and Olivia Fobert are the bakers and makers behind Joy Road Catering who are opening up a pop up bakeshop this May in the former Craft Kitchen. (Facebook)
Pop-up bakeshop opening in downtown Penticton

Joy Road Catering’s Bakeshop will be offering breads, pastries, lunch bowls and a marketplace

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Major renovations are planned for the Centennial Outdoor Rink in Vernon. - Photo submitted
$695K grant to get Vernon rink ready for next season

Provincial funding will go toward replacing chiller at Centennial Outdoor Rink

Smoke dissipates as fire crews respond to smoke that was billowing from a residential building in the 400 block of Fourth Avenue SE in Salmon Arm about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Residents displaced following Salmon Arm apartment fire

Crews were called to the scene at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24

A chocolate banana cream pie, similar to the smaller version pictured, baked by the Shuswap Pie Company’s Tovah Shantz, fetched $5,000 in this year’s Heritage Week pie auction fundraiser for R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum. (Shuswap Pie Company photo)
Made-in-Shuswap pie fetches $5,000 in fundraiser

Heritage Week pie auction raises $51,500 for R.J. Haney Heritage Village & Museum

BC49 logo
$75K lotto ticket sold in Vernon

Check your tickets, someone is winning big through the BC/49

EZ Rock will now be run remotely from Salmon Arm, before being taken over by Revelstoke in the long term. (Claire Palmer photo)
Golden loses fan favourite EZ Rock radio host in Bell layoffs

Chris Cameron first came to Golden in 2012

Most Read