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Leave the Phone at Home

I personally am a huge fan of having days where I leave my phone at home. I find it easy to get caught up in social media, especially when notifications constantly fill my feed. While platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, VSCO and Facebook are called “social media,” the more one connects with a screen, the less they do with the people around them.

Social media has been said to interrupt the everyday life of people around the world and their wellbeing.  According to a study taking place from 1991-2016 measuring the psychological well-being of 8th, 10th and 12 graders, “well-being suddenly decreased after 2012- just at the time that smartphone and social media use peaked” (US News). More time spent on electronics correlates to more unhappiness in individuals. Those that were the happiest in the study were those who engaged with the people around them in sports, music and other activities.

Spending excessive time on social media has negative results. It has become a default for our generation to pick up a device when there is no action or fun. Quickly following we begin to compare our own insides and how we are feeling in the moment of boredom to the exciting lives of the people on the screen. This unrealistic standard is deadly as we slowly compare ourselves to the thousands of people we follow. Because of these negative effects, it is so important to take a step back and reevaluate life: to truly take a break, even just for a day. And the easiest way to do this… leave the phone at home!

After reading articles and thinking about my personal happiness, I thought it would be valuable to do a social media cleanse for the day. I deleted all forms of online connection from my iPad and laptop and turned my phone all the way off. For 24 hours I was off the grid except for my Dana Hall email and Schoology. I didn’t know if I would be able to do it. Without so much happening at the tip of my fingertips I was sure to miss out.

If you challenged yourself do you think you could take 24 hours off?

In order to get ready, I had to plan my day in advance. How would I wake up with no alarm on my phone? What lunch period should I go to? And most importantly, how I would be getting home? I am a planner in my everyday life, so these concepts were not as challenging for me as I know they could potentially be for others. Since I was younger, my grandparents have told me many times that planning is a life skill.  With the immediate accessibility to our phone constantly, planning in everyday life is a step that is easily forgotten.

Last Tuesday, I took the challenge and began my cleanse. At 10:30 I turned my phone all the way off and went to sleep. It took time to finally feel comfortable and to be able to fall asleep with no music. I was left in a dark, silent room with no bright screen lingering above my eyes.

Two girls walk the hallway on their phones on the way to lunch. I was able to see much more of other people on their phones while I walked the halls cellphone less.

When I naturally woke up at 7:00AM, I turned to my bedside table to check the weather and scroll through Instagram but realized that was not an option. Instead, I rolled out of bed, got in the shower and began to hum my favorite tunes. Although normally it is less than pleasant to hear my wonderful acoustics bounce of the shower walls over my loud SoundCloud playlist, Tuesday morning, I was happy to hear how cheerful my voice was.

To my surprise, I felt relieved that morning. There was no pressure to be up to date and to start texting early in the day. I was able to stay truly present and be in the moment.

Around 11:30 friends began to ask me  “hey, did you get my text?” or “why haven’t you responded?” and I was hardly bothered. I looked forward to hearing the next part of the sentence which started … “I had such a good weekend” or “guess what I just found out.” I loved seeing facial expressions and gestures that came with the story, something you never see over text.

Tuesday was one of the best days I have had for a while. It went fast. Maybe it was just because I was in a good mood or maybe because I was making an effort to engage more and make eye contact.

While I had a great day, by  8:00 the “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) set in. I felt like I was missing something. This is probably because it was the one time during the entire day where I was not surrounded by people. I was forced into alone time and with no phone present I began to grow a little anxious.

It is interesting that with a phone even during alone time it is easy to be connected. What were my friends talking about? Was anyone trying to contact me? When I went back on my phone would I be overwhelmed by the notifications from the day?

At 10:30, I finally picked up my phone again and logged back on. I was surprised by how much I did not care about anything on my phone. Screen time and scrolling almost felt like a burden and I felt no need to spend endless hours of night on the phone.

I really recommend taking days to leave your phone at home, but if this does not seem like something you can do, here are 5 SIMPLE tips and tricks to help you stay more present.

Phones are stacked during class so avoid usage. Stacking phones can help you to get more engaged.

  1. NO PHONE MEAL: make a phone stack during meals with friends. Don’t look at your phone from when you sit down to when you stand up
  2. NO SCROLL NIGHT: don’t use any scrolling social media one night
  3. FACETIME A FRIEND you haven’t seen in a while. Facetime is closer to FACE TIME then a text
  4. CHOOSE ONE DEVICE: choose only one device to use social media instead of scrolling on your iPad and laptop.
  5. NO PHONE HALLWAY: in the hallway make eye contact and say hello to as many people as possible instead of looking down at your phone