14 Day Cell Phone Detox
March 6, 2018
Christian Lous Lange once said that “Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.” Ever since we were kids, our health classes taught us the signs of addiction to drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol could cause work/school problems, disruption of sleep, isolating or detached behavior, loss of control over the amount of use, compulsive using, and continued use despite the consequences.
It’s not like not having our cell phones actually makes us physical withdraw, but it’s possible you could be addicted. Does being on your phone keep you up late? Do you avoid people and just bury yourself in the never-ending scrolling of your Instagram feed? Do you risk getting caught using it when you know you shouldn’t be? We have been programmed to keep our phones glued to our sides. In fact, the average american touches their phone over 2,617 times a day! While technology used to be a useful servant, we have let it become our master.
The only way for me to know if cell phones are truly addictive is if I test it out myself, so for the next two weeks I have decided to give up my cell phone cold turkey. Many cell phone detoxes you find online tell you to take it “one step at a time”, but I thought that sounded boring. Instead of weening off of it, I am going to lock it in a drawer and not think about it, or try not to, anyway. If I am not addicted to my cell phone, then this should be no problem! However, if I find I am one of those people who suffers from nomophobia (the fear of being without your phone), then you all get to witness the process of me going insane firsthand.
About a month before I started this little experiment, I decided that it would be a good idea to track my cell phone usage for awhile, just to get a feel for where I was at. I went and downloaded an app called Moment, which tracks many different things daily, such as screen time, pickups, ‘sleep’, waking life, and your most used apps. Screen time is how many active minutes you are on your phone, pickups are how many time you simply turn it on, waking life is an estimate of how many years you will spend on your phone in your lifetime if you continue to spend that much time on it, and sleep is how long you left your phone unattended and unused. In order to use Moment (it only works on iOS devices), all you have to do is go into settings, go to battery, hit the clock icon by battery usage, and take screen shots of your usage. They will automatically upload to Moment, allowing you to start tracking. For the month of February, my screen time was totaled at 144 hours, which is about 4 hours and 7 minutes a day. My waking life is around 10.9 years. My daily pickups average around 53 a day, but I have 1,858 in total. My most used app is currently YouTube, and my sleep is around 8 hours and 46 minutes per day for a grand total of 307 hours and 5 minutes of total sleep.
After gathering that data, I then came up with some additional rules for me to follow. They aren’t really set rules, as doing these things won’t actually change the outcome of this detox, but I was hoping that if I followed them I wouldn’t go as insane.
1) Kill the notifications. Pretty much every app in existence sends you text message notifications from time to time. And while staying informed is great, you don’t want to be tempted to check your phone. Just because you hide it away, doesn’t mean you won’t want to get it out and check it.
2.)Unsubscribe from all of the email newsletters. It is worth it to have a less cluttered inbox. There is less to lure you in to check it. If you know it’s not there, you won’t want to go look at it.
3.) Keep it out of your bedroom. You don’t need a $800 phone to be your alarm clock and there are plenty of other things to do when you are bored. Keeping your phone means that you do not have easy access to it and won’t be as tempted to check it.
4.) Carry a book with you at all times. If you feel the need to check your phone you can read it and you may not feel as anxious.
Now it’s time for me to start my journey to complete insanity, as I jump headfirst into 14 days cell phone free!
Today is Day 3, and I already hate this. They say that the first week of coming off of a drug addiction is the hardest, and I sincerely hope it’s the same for phones. I didn’t think it would have an effect on me, because I keep myself busy with so many other things, however that’s not the case. First of all, I always keep my phone in my back pocket, and now that it’s not there, I panic thinking that it is lost. I also keep unconsciously reaching for it, like it is still there. I may be going into some kind of music withdrawl. I find it hard to concentrate on my work in the afternoon without music blaring in the background. It funny how you don’t know how attached you are to something until it’s not there.
However, I did find a silver lining, and it’s only been three days. I LOVE to read, but ever since school started this year, I haven’t gotten to do much of it. While it’s only been three days, I have not only re-read my favorite book of all time, but I have also started a new one. I have started to experience how the time wasted endlessly scrolling on your cell phone can really add up. My homework doesn’t take as long and I feel much more productive. I have had more time to study for tests, and have even lengthened the time of my daily devotions.
So while this is actually terrible for my sanity, maybe it’s not so bad for my health.
I must say, I am quite proud of myself. I have successfully removed myself from the rest of society for a whole week now! As a compulsive email checker, I have found a little bit of freedom in having an excuse to not answer other people’s emails. While it does feel a tad bit weird to not text/call anyone, I must say that I have been so much more productive. I think it’s because I have been focusing on myself and what I need to accomplish instead of constantly checking my phone hoping to meet other people’s demands.
Earlier in the week I thought that this was impossible, but I have experienced a little change in heart. The impact that your cell phone has on you runs deeper than I originally thought. My mom once told me that using your phone before bed could cause insomnia because the light stimulates your brain and makes you stay awake longer. I always thought that was just a myth, but I actually have been sleeping better at night. Because I sleep better at night, I need less coffee. Because I need less coffee, I feel more energetic throughout the day because there is no “coffee crash” (yes, it’s a thing). Because I feel more energetic, I get more work done, and the list could go on. There are so many benefits of not being constantly attached to your cell phone, and it makes me wonder what would happen to society if everyone would detox.
I mean, sure, sometimes I want to rip it out of drawer and check all of my Instagram direct messages. However in the long run, it’s worth it. I’m super excited to jump into week two! Instead of getting on my phone, I’m thinking about reading a book with a nice cup of tea, which so much more relaxing than answering emails.
Let’s all celebrate, for we are almost done! If this was texting I’d add a celebration emoji, but I’m not adding a celebration emoji because this isn’t texting and I still have no phone. As Shakespeare’s play Hamlet once said, “Woe is me!” I know what you are thinking. Yes, while I have enjoyed some parts of this detox, there are some things I can’t wait to have back. I am bursting at the seams. I miss texting my friends, endlessly checking emails, and my music. I can’t wait to listen to Beethoven’s Descent into Madness again (don’t judge my music taste). You could maybe even say that I miss Facebook. Okay, and Instagram too. I am so happy that soon, I’ll have my phone back; my link to the outside world!
In all seriousness, though, this detox was eye-opening and surprisingly fun. It amazing how much life you can miss with your head buried in a cell phone. How much of life’s precious moments have we missed, like a fun night out with friends because all we wanted was to stay home and scroll for hours? What opportunities have we missed out on, as individuals and as a society?
I’m learning that cell phones are not bad. In fact, they are probably smarter than us. That, in essence, is what makes them such a great thing to have by your side. However, this life is so short, and you only get one. Don’t miss the joy in life because the light coming from you cell phone is more enticing than the light that your future shines. I think it is time, as a society, to use our phones a little less. It’s amazing what happens when we reconnect with the world around us, instead of the world made up in that rectangle of metal, glass, and wires.
I feel like I deserve an award for all the suffering I have been through! No? How about a party? I’m just kidding; I am slightly sad that my little adventure is over! I learned so much about the impact of cell phones on individuals and society as a whole.
Guys, we are missing so much of real life. We are choosing to dream up an alternate world that only exists inside our phones instead enjoying the only real life we have been given. I’m not saying that cell phone usage is bad and there’s nothing we can do about it. What I am saying is that if we don’t balance other things with our cell phone usage, time can fly and so many things can be missed.
For example, these past two weeks I have raised my math grade from an 83% to a 90%! This is all because I have found more time to study. I have read two books cover to cover, and I am about to order the third book in the series (the series is call If I Run by Terri Blackstock, IT IS SO AMAZING)! I have had more time to do the things I love like playing the violin, doing daily devotions, and running with my dogs. I have been sleeping better, and I have felt very aware of everything that is going on around me.
If you want to try this detox, I honestly think you won’t regret it. It is an amazing feeling to have a break from the constant using of your cell phone. We are all so infactuated with our cell phones, the rest of life just breezes by.
As Josie Maran once said, “There’s so much to appreciate about my life every single day, and I make a big point of taking time to smell the roses. I never want to take that for granted.”