Travelers Disconnect for Digital Detox Holidays

Australia's luxury resort Saffire Freycinet is located mid-way along Tasmania's East Coast. To eliminate the last bit of temptation, the resort requires guests to surrender their digital devices upon arrival if they are participating in the resort's "e-tox" package. (Photo courtesy Digital Detox Holidays) Posted for media use

Australia’s luxury resort Saffire Freycinet is located mid-way along Tasmania’s East Coast. To eliminate the last bit of temptation, the resort requires guests to surrender their digital devices upon arrival if they are participating in the resort’s “e-tox” package. (Photo courtesy Digital Detox Holidays) Posted for media use

By Sunny Lewis

TOWNSVILLE, Queensland, Australia, July 24, 2018 ( News) – Hard to believe for Internet addicts who check their phones 80 times a day but the phenomenon of digital detox is on the rise and could be an important part of the tourism industry in the future, researchers at Australia’s James Cook University  have concluded.

Philip Pearce, who became the first professor of tourism in Australia in 1990, is now at JCU studying changes in the portrayal of digital-free tourism – where internet and mobile signals are either absent or digital technology use is controlled.

Professor Pearce said, “Digital black hole resorts have become popular luxury vacation choices in the United Kingdom and North America,” and he added that “digital detoxing holidays” are new and powerful selling points for many isolated island destinations.

Pearce said services offered will likely expand to include temporary disconnection, alternative activities, personalized digital-free experiences and special programs for certain groups such as a family with children or a group of work colleagues.

Take Petit St Vincent, for instance. This luxurious private island in the Grenadine islands of the West Indies accessible only by boat, lets guests unplug. Amidst generous comforts and ultimate privacy, there is a deliberate absence of connectivity. There are no TV’s, phones or internet in the beach front villas and cottages, encouraging guests to unwind and relax.

Or travelers in search of digital detox could choose to visit northern Thailand’s Lisu Lodge, a basic lodge in Chiang Mai Province without televisions, phones or Internet connection. The main organized activity is a trip to the tribal village of the Lisu to meet the shaman of the village, drink tea with the locals and experience how the Lisu lived centuries ago. Guests can go mountain biking, water rafting or have an elephant adventure – all without their digital devices.

There are several digital-detox booking websites such as

For this study, the JCU researchers analyzed media references to digital-detox over the past decade.

“The first references we found on the topic of digital-detox holidays were a single article from 2009 and another the next year,” said Pearce. “Serious media coverage of digital-free holidays started in 2011.”

Pearce said the experience was first offered as an up-market product targeting the high-end travel market.

“By 2016 and in 2017 though, there was a change of emphasis, with digital-free holidays going from a niche product to one appealing to a broader consumer base,” he said.

“There is recognition in the industry of the ‘new escapism,’ where people not only want to stay away from the physical home environment, but also to disconnect from the digital world of routine work and social life,” Pearce said.

Still, he said, it’s a small market.

“It’s not yet clear if this kind of tourism will be profitable for many commercial operators. We only know there has been a rise in media coverage which may indicate a growing industry phenomenon.”

There are all kinds of tech-free holidays. There’s the luxury get-away version of digital detox, and there’s the back to basics digital-free retreat.

Based in California’s Bay Area, Digital Detox® Retreats offers a back to basics experience. At the company’s Camp Grounded Summer Camp for Adults, Digital Detox retreatants from over 30 states and 8+ countries trade in their computers, cell phones, emails, Instagrams, clocks, schedules, work-jargon and networking for an off-the-grid weekend of fun in the California redwoods.

Founders Levi Felix and Brooke Dean say on their website, “By providing a truly integrated experience that nourishes both mind and body, while deepening one’s sense of self without the digital distractions of everyday life, we are able to focus on the tenants of connection, rather than disconnection.”

“It’s not just about unplugging. It’s about rediscovering what happens when we truly plug-in to life. As we disconnect from our devices, we reconnect with ourself, our community, nature and the world at large.”

Then, there’s the medical approach, such as the expertise offered at the reSTART Center for Digital Technology Sustainability, a rehab facility for online addicts located near Redmond, Washington, the home of Microsoft.

For close to a decade, reSTART has been coaching problematic users, often gamers, whose lives have become unmanageable. Relationships with family members have deteriorated, motivation to engage in offline activities has diminished, and connection with educational pursuits has often turned to apathy at best, and downright school refusal for a few.

In January, the World Health Organization included Gaming Disorder in the draft 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

WHO says this decision is based on decades of scientific research conducted around the world showing that certain types of digital media use may lead to functional impairments in some users.

The decision was made despite the objections of the video game industry and researchers who believe the scientific evidence for the classification is weak at best.

WHO describes gaming disorder as “a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

“At reSTART,” say co-founders Cosette Rae and Hilarie Cash, “we understand that problematic Internet and gaming use often co-occurs with other mental health conditions. Our program is designed to address a wide variety of underlying issues which may contribute to excessive Internet use (e.g., family problems, divorce, childhood trauma, depression, anxiety, ADHD, etc.) by connecting individuals with integrative community service providers knowledgeable in these areas during a stay at the center.”

It’s not a vacation, but a life reconstruction opportunity. Each participant receives one-to-one individual therapy with professionals in the field of addiction recovery. Participants begin each day fitness class and a personal discovery session. Group work fosters an understanding of what participants want out of life by examining choices and defining personal values.

And in Australia, where Internet usage stands at 88 percent, 69 percent of the population are active social media users, and many Aussies spend an average of five hours and 34 minutes online daily, Professor Pearce said there is an opportunity in remote parts of the country to explore the feasibility of partial disconnection.

There, the combination of isolation and disconnection could appeal to a special market, particularly if blended with interests such as astronomy tourism and outback photography.

Sounds good to me, but not to quite a few Americans.

While Americans want to relax and get away from their daily routines, they don’t want a break from their phones, according to new research sponsored by Nashville-based mobile phone insurance company Asurion.

A survey of 2,000 Americans and found that they checked their phones an average of 80 times a day while on vacation, with some checking their phone more than 300 times each day. Whether on a beach, by the pool or in a museum, the average American checks his or her phone five times an hour, or once every 12 minutes while on vacation. And nearly 10 percent said they check their phones more than 20 times an hour.

“The results reveal that while people enjoy taking a vacation from everyday life, they don’t necessarily want to take a full break from their phone, which serves as their main connection to friends and family, and is a practical tool to help get around when travelling,” said Asurion spokesperson Bettie Colombo.

Four hours is the average time Americans can stand to be away from their phones while indulging in rest and recreation.

Asurion advises a mini-digital detox:

  • Set the phone on Do Not Disturb for select hours when you don’t want to be contacted.
  • Block out everyone while still allowing for crucial calls and texts from closest friends and family.
  • Many apps can help users break their screen dependency and reduce distractions.

The Forest app – available for both the iPhone and Android – sets a timeframe when a user wants to leave the phone alone. During that time the Forest app plants a digital seedling that slowly grows into a tree on the phone screen. The tree withers if the user checks the phone before the time is up.


Featured Image: Tourist on vacation in the Maldives relaxes without any digital devices, June 12, 2018 (Photo by Ryan Adams / Creative Commons license via Flickr

World Will Run On 5G Broadband by 2020


By Sunny Lewis

BARCELONA, Spain, February 29, 2016 ( News) – The European Union and Brazil have signed an agreement to develop 5G Broadband, the fifth generation of wireless network technology that will speed the uptake of smart transportation, sustainable urban environments, home automation, emergency response, intelligent shopping and e-books, among other applications.

European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger and Brazilian Minister of Communications André Figueiredo Tuesday signed a joint declaration at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Open February 22-25, the Mobile World Congress hosted more than 100,000 visitors for the first time in the event’s nearly 30-year history, with attendees from 204 countries and more than 2,200 exhibitors, organizers report.

Commissioner Oettinger says the Commission already is planning to deploy 5G technology in the EU by 2020. “International agreements are complementary to our efforts to deploy the technology in the EU and the work we are starting today to prepare a 5G action plan for the EU.”

“With today’s agreement we have notably committed to cooperating on the take-up of 5G in so-called vertical industries such as transport or energy,” Oettinger said.

This deal follows similar cooperation initiatives between the EU and South Korea, Japan and China that are beginning to shape up into a global network.

Commissioner Oettinger said, “After landmark agreements with China, Japan and South Korea, today’s cooperation initiative with Brazil is a new key step towards 5G. Neither Europe, nor Brazil can afford to lag behind in the digital era.”

5G promises lightning-fast broadband speeds. Users can expect to do whatever they want from anywhere they are without a drop in speed or connection, no matter how many people are connected at the same time.

EU Vice-President Andrus Ansip, the Commissioner responsible for the Digital Single Market, congratulated his colleagues for “pushing for 5G at global level.”

“This is about essential technology to ensure connectivity,” said Ansip. “But it is also about building trust and confidence in online services and creating the right conditions for the technology to be deployed across borders. Spectrum coordination is essential to make 5G happen.”

To open the way for 5G in the EU, the Commission has presented a proposal to coordinate the use of the 700 MHz band for mobile services.

With coordination, mobile operators using the 700 MHz band could offer faster and higher-quality broadband signal to wider areas, including rural and remote regions.

EU officials hope 5G would enable Europe to surge ahead of the currently leading 4G regions such as South Korea or the United States.

But 5G technology is still in its infancy and the standards are still in development. The EU and Brazil have agreed to develop a global definition of 5G and to identifying the services – connected cars, the Internet of Things or very high-definition video streaming – which should be the first delivered by 5G networks.

The two partners will work to define common standards so they can strengthen their position in this zooming industry. They will cooperate to identify the most promising radio frequencies to meet the additional spectrum requirements for 5G.

And the demand for broadband is ever-rising. Server workloads are growing by 10 percent a year, according to the European Commission. Network bandwidth demand is growing by 35 percent. Storage capacity is growing by 50 percent. Power costs are growing by 20 percent.

Globally, nearly one billion websites exist, there are more than 1.2 million iTunes apps and more than 450,000 Android apps, in addition to thousands of existing Internet radio stations and the millions of people who watch videos on their mobile devices.


A few of the more than 100,000 visitors to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 22 2016 (Photo by Pierre Metivier) under creative commons license via Flickr

In the future, everybody and everything will use 5G. By 2020, there will be 26 billion connected devices and 70 percent of people will own a smartphone, the Commission projects.

The European Union and most developed countries are working to broaden their capacity to handle this enormous demand.

In the United States, April 12-13, the 5G Forum will be held in Palo Alto, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, gathering c-level executives from the carrier and Internet of Things (IoT) communities to define and shape 5G.

4G Americas, the industry trade group and voice of 5G and LTE (Long Term Evolution) of wireless broadband speed for the Americas, changed its name to 5G Americas earlier this month.

Tom Keathley, chairman of 5G Americas and senior vice president, Wireless Network Architecture and Design at AT&T commented, “The name change to 5G Americas will not come as a surprise to the industry, since the association has been contributing to the development of 5G for the past two years; however, its timing is significant given the growing effort to standardize our next generation of wireless technology.”

5G Americas will represent the Americas region in planning and participating in the first global 5G Event to be held by leading 5G global organizations in Beijing, China May 31 and June 1.

Now, 5G is not the only name by which the next-generation cellular system is known. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has decided to call it IMT-2020, even though everyone still calls it 5G.

The ITU is also the organization that last year set a timeline that calls for the new IMT standard to be finished in 2020 – hence IMT-2020. Earlier iterations were IMT-2000 (3G) and IMT-Advanced (4G).

Then, from June 28 through 30 in London, the 5G World 2016 conference will bring together 4000+ telecom operators, solution providers and IoT specialists, to help evolve networks achieve the 2020 vision.

In Barcelona, 5G was the highlight of a keynote address by Laura Desmond, chief revenue officer of Publicis Groupe, one of the largest advertising holding companies in the world; and Global CEO, Starcom Mediavest Group.

“Based on a demo I saw, 5G is the Usain Bolt of mobile,” said Desmond referring to the Jamaican sprinter. “The massive increase in network capacity makes downloads instantaneous and high-definition streaming lightning quick. The speed and convenience of 5G dovetails with the ever-increasing appetite for mobile video consumption among consumers.”

Commissioner Oettinger wrote in a blog post, “The aim is to build on EU investments already planned in 5G research and innovation – €700 million by 2020 – so that European companies are ready to start offering 5G products and services in 2020.”


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Main image: Caption: A line of digital camera captures a panoramic view of the 2016 Mobile World Congress. Feb. 23, 2016 (Photo by Pierre Metivier) under creative commons license via Flickr