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In the Classroom: Students give up smartphones for four days

Posted at 3:24 PM, Mar 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-23 08:33:15-04

Some 7th graders in Gina Stukenholtz's class at Lewis & Clark Middle School in Bellevue recently did a digital detox. 

13 students agreed to trade in their smartphones on a Tuesday. They received a flip phone provided by U.S. Cellular's Cellular Advantage location in Bellevue. The smartphones were locked up until Friday. 

The challenge came after Stukenholtz read about another school who had done it. She was also compelled by research that indicates a possible link between cell phones usage and changes in teens. It's something Stukenholtz says she has observed. "There's definitely an uptick in mental health issues with teenagers, whether it's anxiety, depression, even suicide."

Students told us they've noticed that people don't play outside as much anymore and families often have phones at their meals. 

They also tracked their phone usage and found some of them spent up to eight hours a day on their phones on weekend days. 

How'd the digital detox go?

We checked back with them. 

Many students told us they spent more time with their families. 

Samantha Rice said, "I went to the library with my dad, and I signed up for babysitting course because I've always wanted to do that, but I've never really found the time or the place."

Others turned to hobbies like artwork. 

Student Natalie McNamara said this about devices, "we just get so addicted to them and stop communicating with each other and that affects our everyday life and our phones become our friends." 

Stukenholtz told her students technology is good, but she wants them to be in control of their device and not let it control them.