The importance of “unplugging” from technology

Kaitlyn Jorgensen
Staff Writer

In a world of instant gratification, one of the biggest struggles facing college kids today is the demand on their time, not only to be in the classroom, but a simultaneous expectation to be readily available to others while in the classroom.  In this era of modern technology, it’s no longer as simple as “just turn your phone off,” a solution proposed by many college professors who do not understand what it is like to live in an age where technology equivalates to being readily available to others whenever.

Parents, friends, bosses, grandma or social media; there is an expectation that you should ALWAYS have your phone on you, and you should ALWAYS be able to answer it, respond to an email, or at message back no matter the circumstances.

“Too many of us have become slaves to the devices that were supposed to free us, giving us more time to experience life and the people we love. Instead, we’re constantly bombarded by bells, buzzes and chimes that alert us to messages we feel compelled to view and respond to immediately.” Jane E. Brody wrote in an article called “Hooked on our Smartphones” published in the New York Times.

Brody later went on to publish the findings of the University of Maryland in “The World Unplugged Project.” In this experiment investigators reported that “a clear majority” of students in the 10 countries studied experienced distress when they tried to go without their devices for 24 hours.

As a freshman starting college, one of the first things I struggled with was time management. It became clear to me that I had plenty of time, however I was utilizing it improperly as I spent the majority of my time either on Snapchat or Instagram. Instagram is an instantaneous photo and video-sharing social networking service, one that if you are not on your news feed the moment something is posted, then likely you will not view the post until hours later when you’re bored, sitting on the toilet, and have already scrolled past 4,000 other Instagram posts.

And while it is clear that technology is consuming a vast majority of our time, something that is a little murky is the solution to this problem.

My solution to my Instagram dilemma was to just delete it. Entirely. First, I tried just deleting the app, but then the next time I had down time I found myself reinstalling it. The next solution was to deactivate my account permanently and then delete the app. Later, I found myself cheating by looking at memes on Facebook. Friends and family did not seem to understand my wish to “go off the grid” as social media was their only means of communicating with me. This debate led to many hurt feelings because I didn’t see or “like” a post about one of their significant life events. It seemed to me that technology is inescapable.

In the midst of my quest to go phoneless, I stumbled across an article published in Author Unlimited titled “16 Ways to Unplug from Technology”. This article stated that according to Chinese researcher Dr. Hao Lei, “Burying your face in a screen for a large part of your day wreaks havoc on mental and physical health, with studies showing that young adults who overuse technology show similar brain patterns to those addicted to alcohol and cocaine.”

This article brought a lot of things to light. The first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one, and I was a phone addict.

In this article they give many helpful tips for cutting down on screen time. I began a “digital diet” of sorts. I set a goal stating that I wanted to cut down the amount of time I spent on my phone by 50 percent or more.

The next step was finding creative outlets. Joining clubs, writing, spending time with friends and doing other more productive things to pack my day full, left me with less time to sit on my phone. Instead of bringing my phone places for entertainment, I began bringing my college textbooks. Engaging in conversation with peers instead of using your phone as a social crutch goes a long way. I even had a suggestion to downgrade to a more archaic technology without all the fancy bells and whistles.

Some other suggestions mentioned in this article are to set a technology bedtime, keep your phone on “do not disturb,” and schedule specific times and limit those yourself to only being on your phone during those times.

I will admit, it is nearly impossible to cut technology out of your life entirely. However, I feel significantly less stressed, and my grades are improving because of it. I can wake up with my iPhone on 100 percent keep it with me all day and at the end of the night still have the battery at 26 percent, an accomplishment to be proud of.

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