Taking a Break From Technology


Ava Warren

When walking the halls of Ipswich High School, it’s pretty normal to see a good portion of students with their heads down looking at their phones. According to growingwireless.com, “51 percent of high school students carry a smartphone with them to school every day, compared to 28 percent of middle school students.” When I asked a peer of mine, Cate Phypers, about her views on technology, she replied, “Technology is cool because it allows us to communicate, learn, and share information effectively. I know I waste a lot of time by going on my phone.” Looking around the school got me thinking. What would life be like in the technology age without a phone?

To put this to the test, I decided to give up my phone for the 40 days of Lent. Some of the problems that I ran into have made me realize how much I take for granted everything I use my phone for on a daily basis. I found myself having to look up directions online if I planned to drive to a new location, and rather than snapping a picture of my friend’s calculus notes after I was absent, I had to borrow her notebook and write them out. The biggest struggles I came across were when I had a simple question or reminder for people that I don’t see on a daily basis. I would usually just send them a quick text, but I found I had to put in more effort to seek them out during school. I do feel somewhat less connected to others, possibly because my friends and I would typically be texting or sending snapchats constantly.

Another situation that I found particularly difficult is short periods of time that I would usually fill by going on my phone. I found I didn’t have much to do when my friends were sitting around the lunch table on their phones, and I had no escape from the awkwardness of sitting alone in public. I noticed that I do have a little bit more free time here and there, but I  never found something that I think would be worth spending this time on. One of the biggest benefits I’ve found to not using a phone is that it’s a lot easier for me to fall asleep. According to a 2019 study on phone usage, I’m not alone in this. 80% of people reported going on their phones within one hour of going to bed, and 35% of people reported going on their phones within five minutes of going to bed. Rather than looking at the stimulating blue light right before bed, I’ve given reading and writing a chance.

Do I think it’s the most sustainable or convenient challenge I could’ve picked? Probably not. But going weeks without a phone has led me to realize I can be more dependent on the people around me and less dependent on technology.

Cate commented on her perception of my experience, saying, “I think it was an interesting experiment. It did get kind of annoying when I was constantly having to make plans or text people for you. I guess that just goes to show that it’s impossible to be totally off the grid in this day and age.” I also realized that I don’t need to have my phone with me constantly during the day. I can be fully functional without knowing where my phone is at all times. The nomophobia (fear of not being with your phone) has impacted me less than I thought it would.

I think I benefited from this experiment because I  had to find creative ways of solving problems, something that I don’t practice in my everyday life. While this is a challenge at some points and there are certainly times of inconvenience, I feel more indifferent towards using or not using a phone than I thought I would.