We need to stop wasting our lives on our phones

As technology addictions become increasingly common, we need to be aware of how much time we spend on our phones and the effects that has on us.

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We need to stop wasting our lives on our phones

by Katie Massman, Twitter editor

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One very hot day this past July, while waiting in line for Spinning Dragons at Worlds of Fun with my friends, screen time came up in our conversation. We compared how many hours each of us had averaged out for the week. The lowest was about three hours, and the highest was an impressive seven hours a day. I assumed this was uncommon, but according to Common Sense Media, teens spend an average of nine hours a day online.

Nine hours a day turns into 60 hours a week, which turns into over 250 hours a month — which is equivalent to more than a week. 

If phones were not such a big part of our lives, we would have almost a week’s worth of more time each month to do whatever we wanted. So is spending this much time on our phones really worth it? Or are we just wasting away hours of our life for no reason?

I know I’m not alone when I say I wish I weren’t so reliant on my phone. According to a poll of 13 to 18-year-olds in the U.S. by Screen Education in April of 2018, 65% of respondents said they “wish they had a better ability to self-limit the amount of time they spend on their phone.” However, it’s just not practical to completely get rid of it. For one, it’s necessary to communicate with friends and parents, but the other problem is simply this: I am addicted to it, which I didn’t realize until recently. 

While on a mission trip in New York this summer with three of my closest friends, soon after our arrival we were met with some very unwelcome news — our phones were prohibited except for about 15 minutes at night to check in with our parents. Now, I don’t know if all teenagers would find this news as devastating as my friends and I did, but we were pretty distraught — even though this really shouldn’t have been a big deal. 

The first day without our phones came and with it, withdrawal. I would often instinctively reach for my phone just to realize with disappointment that it wasn’t there. This was probably because my brain has gotten so used to constantly receiving updates on everyone else’s lives, that without that information I felt like I was missing something. 

But life went on, even without knowing what other people were doing. In fact, I actually think I enjoyed life better without my phone because I found myself feeling less stressed. I didn’t feel the need to check Instagram every second or constantly update people on what I was doing. While social media can be fun and entertaining, it can be stressful because you feel the need to stay updated on everyone else’s lives while filling other people in on your own life as well. 

Another thing I noticed was how close my friends and I became when we were stuck in a room for hours without our phones to keep us occupied. At first, we were astounded at the fact that we were expected to just sit in our room without our phones. But that feeling was short-lived, as we quickly started coming up with things to do. We played card games, made friendship bracelets (which I haven’t done since 6th grade before I had a phone) and just talked for hours. And if something funny happened, I could sit there and just enjoy where I was instead of feeling like I needed to record it. 

However, the minute we were allowed to have our phones at night, we went into robot-mode. No talking to each other, just sitting in complete silence staring at our screens. The ironic thing is that we used them to connect with people miles away from us which then detached us from the people sitting right there. 

At the end of the day, did those 15 minutes of having access to my phone really make a difference in my life? Not at all. I have no memory of what I did on my phone those nights, but what I do remember is the memories I made with my friends when we had nothing else to do but talk to each other face to face.

What would everyday life be like if we were not so addicted to our phones? What are we missing out on during those seven hours every day? I think it’s safe to assume that we would establish better, deeper relationships with each other because we would always have to talk face to face. It wouldn’t be as easy as sending selfies back and forth 30 times a day. We would also have so much more time to try new things, develop hobbies or just relax. 

There are a plethora of other effects that phone addiction has on the teenage brain besides consuming all our time, though, such as anxiety, depression, impulse control problems, and sleep disorders, according to Psychology Today.

Phones offer us constant entertainment which leads to an unhealthy addiction where we feel like we must be occupied 24/7. However, while mindless scrolling through social media may give us some instant, unsatisfactory entertainment, we must put down our phones and live in the moment to find truly fulfilling experiences.

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