The Kokoda Youth Foundation Digital Detox Program: A Life-Changing Experience for Kids
Did you know that up to 30% of a child’s waking time is spent in front of a screen? Research indicates that excessive screen time among 5-17 year olds can have adverse effects on their physical and mental wellbeing. In particular, it can contribute to poor dietary habits and weight gain, while also heightening the risk of developing anxiety, behavioural problems, and attention-related issues.
Our Digital Detox Program is designed to cultivate kids’ awareness of their technology usage and its impact on their relationships with others as well as themselves. By blending mindfulness and breathing techniques with outdoor adventure activities, our program helps children establish a balanced and healthy relationship with their devices. Here’s what some of our graduates had to say after completing the program:
Jake: “When I first heard about the program, I thought it would be fun and good to try. I had to give up my family, who were on a beach holiday, and I had to give up technology.
“When I arrived on the first day, I was feeling a bit nervous and excited.
“My favourite thing was making new friends and trying activities where I had to overcome my fears. If I hadn’t gone, I think I would have missed out on the camping and meeting new people.
“I see technology differently now. They can be dangerous for you and your brain with all the signals. But sometimes you need screens in your life. So, I’ve learned to use screens less but to still use them more appropriately.
“I would say to another 12–14-year-old considering attending the program, just have a try of this program because it’s really fun and can be really good for you. “
Harry: “Originally, I didn’t embrace the idea of the program because I thought I was completely under control of my screen time. I had to give up tech for that week, and I also had to leave my family on their holiday.
“When I arrived on the first day, I was quite quiet when I didn’t know anyone, but as the day went on, I felt more excited and happy that I came to camp.
“My favourite thing about the program was all the amazing activities, and the way everyone bonded. If I hadn’t gone, I think I would’ve missed out on all the wonderful opportunities and meeting all the amazing people.
“I see technology differently now, and I try to use it more carefully and in a lot less portions because of all the lessons I learned on camp.
“I would say to another 12–14-year-old considering attending the program, go because of the amazing things that they would miss out on if they didn’t attend.”
Gabriel: “When my teacher mentioned the Kokoda Digital Detox Program to the class at first, I was a bit hesitant about going because I was afraid that I wouldn’t make any friends or that I would maybe have problems with some of the kids, or they would have a problem with me. So, I was not too sure about coming to the camp. In the week that I was gone, I missed out on the opportunity to hang out with all my friends, and I missed out on limited event things for games or new shows that came out.
“When I arrived on the first day, my nerves were through the roof. I felt so sick and was so scared about being there because I had no way to use my technology to escape into my own world. Throughout the first day, though, I had already made a lot of friends.
“My favourite thing about the program was the opportunity to meet a variety of new people and make new relationships. The activities were a huge highlight as well, as it made me challenge myself and push my limitations. The activities also made me feel more energetic as it got my blood pumping.
“If I hadn’t gone on the camp, then I would’ve been in my comfort zone for years, and I wouldn’t have the courage to talk to new people or to try new things.
“I see technology differently now. I find that when I got back, things that would take up most of my time would no longer.”
The Digital Detox Program aims to equip young people with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate the digital world in a healthy and balanced way. By doing so, we can help prevent or reduce the negative impact of digital dependency on young people’s mental health and promote a more positive and fulfilling digital experience.
If you’re a 12-14-year-old considering this program, take the advice of these kids and give it a try. You might be nervous at first, but you’ll quickly make new friends and have a lot of fun. And who knows, you might even come away with a new perspective on technology and the world around you.
Find more information about screen time effects and guidelines for kids HERE!