What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Check your texts, your snapchats, your instagram feed? Imagine not having that ability. Imagine life without a phone. Could you do it?
A survey from Common Sense Media finds that half of teenagers feel addicted to their devices, and 78% of teenagers check their phones hourly. This unhealthy use of devices causes stress to these teens. My mom did not think I could give up my phone for a month, and I had my doubts too. I knew it would be interesting to attempt, so my mom and I made a bet that if I could give my phone up for a month she would buy me something I had been asking for. This incentive started to motivate me more. But, how would I stay in touch with news and make plans with my friends? Despite my trepidation, giving up my phone for a month is an experience I will never forget.
Unable to use my phone during the month of January got easier as it went, but it certainly was difficult. The first day I did not know what to do. I felt bored and displayed some signs of withdrawal, constantly tapping my hands and reaching for my phone every time I got up to leave a room. I felt like I had lost a part of me; I was completely dependent on my phone. Wherever I went I felt like I was missing something. Would I miss out on being with my friends? Was there some event I totally forgot about?
However, these feelings soon went away when school started again after December break. I would come home from school and immediately start my homework, finishing it most times at 6:00. With so much free time, I studied for tests or quizzes days or weeks in advance, making study guides and preparing a great amount. Unlike before, I performed better on my assessments and did every homework assignment.
In addition to all of those academic benefits, not having my phone allowed me to spend more time with my family. Normally, I would feel too busy to have long conversations with my parents or siblings during the week, but instead I could accomplish all my work and enhance our relationship. Before the month started, I made sure to write down my friends’ numbers and would call them from my home phone on the weekends. Truthfully, it felt more meaningful when one of my friends would call my home phone in the middle of the week to talk rather than receiving a snapchat or text. It showed me who cared about me enough to call and talk. There were obviously times when not being able to text was difficult, but it ended up not being as bad as I assumed. Days we had off like Martin Luther King Jr day I was bored out of my mind. I wanted my phone more than anything but did not want to give in.
You would assume that I had been counting down the long and slow days until February 1st, but in reality, I was surprised at how quickly February came. Oddly, I was disappointed to get my phone back; I didn’t want to start to lack in academic areas. Once I got it back, I found myself not going on my phone as much and ever since then, I’ve used it in moderation.
Instead of being overly fixated on smartphone usage, we must monitor how much time we use. Distinguishing the line between abusive behavior and appropriate use is crucial. Especially since so many teens use their phone while doing schoolwork, they are often are distracted by social media. Homework should become an activity we do when we need to step away from social media and our phones. When stepping away from my phone, I saw how much more productive I could be. Would I give my phone up again for a month? Most likely yes — this experience was a positive one. At the same time, I think that simply we all need to monitor our time more in general. Psychology Today finds that children and teens are on their phones around eight or more hours a day, while experts have proven that it should limited to two hours. With this overuse of phones, our society has become more obsessed and damaged. Do you think that YOU could live without your phone for a month?
Graphic: Amelia Chen