Students and staff at Eagle River Secondary in Sicamous found a two-week experiment with limited cellphone use an enjoyable disruption of screen-filled lives.
In late January, Cody Hutchinson, a Grade 9 student at the school, challenged his peers to go without cellphones during the school day for two weeks. Between Feb. 1 and 11, ERS students participating in the challenge turned their phones into the office at the start of the day.
With the two-week cellphone detox at an end, Hutchinson said it was a positive experience for him and his classmates who generally have the same impression.
Hutchinson extended the rules of the detox, keeping distance from his phone while at home as well as at school. He said there was a noticeable improvement in his attitude and his grades at school.
At home, he found less distraction from chores on his family’s ranch; rather than texting or listening to music as he worked he found himself taking in the scenery more.
Hutchinson said his classmates quickly got used to going without their phones and are now happy to turn them in at the start of the day.
Eagle River Secondary principal Mark Marino and Hutchinson issued a survey to students participating in the detox. Their responses suggest more interaction between peers and more homework getting done on breaks. Students also reported less concern with what was happening on their phones during the school day and less pressure to answer notifications with the devices in the principal’s office rather than in their pockets.
According to Marino and Hutchinson’s survey, 60 per cent of students who participated plan to change their cellphone habits while at school and 40 per cent said it would change the way they use phones at home.
A celebration to end the detox and prizes are being furnished by a $500 grant Hutchinson was able to obtain from the McCreary Centre Society, a youth research think tank.
Marino and Hutchinson are considering bringing the detox back, possibly to start each quarter or semester.
Hutchinson also challenged other schools to hold a cellphone detox if they can handle the logistics of collecting all the phones. Marino and Hutchinson said they would be happy to share the pledge that students signed before the detox as well as helpful tips with any other schools that want to help students get off their screens.