It seems like everywhere I go, I see people on their phones on social media, texting and calling their family and friends, or listening to music.
Being a college student, I don’t think there is a student on campus that doesn’t have a phone on them.
An even more astonishing statistic is the average phone usage a day is three hours and 15 minutes, which pans out to almost 23 hours a week on your phone alone (Guardian). My Screen Time app says I spent two full days on my phone this past week, with the most used app being YouTube. Early on this year, I checked my phone at least 50 times a day.
Our cell phones have become essentially a part of our identity, and without it, most people don’t know how to function.
Which begs the question: how would college students function without a phone?
I was forced to answer that question my sophomore year of college for three weeks. One night, I heard a crash on the wall to find out the next morning that my phone was busted. I notified my dad and everyone about it so they knew. What proceeded was a roller coaster ride, to say the least.
First off, I couldn’t listen to music on Spotify on my way to class or any time I didn’t have a computer on me. This was excruciating for me because music is a big part of my life and I wasn’t able to discover new songs quicker.
I could no longer use my phone to text or call people and get a faster response. Instead I used email to communicate or messenger on my computer.
Lastly, I wasn’t able to catch up on the latest breaking news on my phone. I was in the dark for a while so to speak.
However, there were benefits. I remember the first couple of days I felt a sense of peace come over me. I was more aware of my surroundings and my anxiety went down at times. For instance, whenever I was on my way to class, I checked my phone at least five times to make sure I wasn’t late. Without a phone, I got there when I got there.
I was more productive and efficient with my studies because I wasn’t distracted checking social media or changing songs on YouTube every four minutes.
I also wasn’t on my phone for an hour before I slept. My eyes were hurting. I woke up feeling groggy, nor could I check it first thing in the morning.
The biggest takeaway, however, was the face-to-face interaction. I needed to see people in person to catch up with them which brought about close friendships.
Over this past weekend, I attended a seminar about being addicted and leveraged by technology. We discussed how phones help us keep in touch with friends from around the world as well as researching school papers. However, phones can lead to a culture of isolation and loneliness.
There were a few steps the speaker gave us to have a healthier relationship with technology. It could be as simple as recording your use of technology on social media, computer, TV or video games. A more extreme step would be turning off your phones for a whole day.
Either way, bringing it back, I learned a lot from this experience. As soon as I got my phone and activated it, my notifications were blowing up, especially on social media.
Sometimes going without your phone can be a good thing. So put the phone down for a while even if it’s for five minutes, because those snaps and tweets can wait.
Header photo courtesy of Flickr.