Power Off

Taking time away from your phone makes you more present in your life


Kayla Reyes

A phone is being powered off. Taking time away from your phone provides many benefits.

Each morning, after turning off the alarm that so horrendously blares and startles me into consciousness, I unlock my phone and browse various apps, not quite ready to fully awaken and prepare myself for the day ahead. When I do finally exit the comfort of my bed, I play some music and continue to look at my notifications, mindlessly scrolling as I move sluggishly around my house.

The routine is quite similar when I finally find myself getting ready for bed at some ungodly hour. I check my phone as I brush my teeth, and instead of climbing into my bed and falling asleep, I scroll some more. “One more video,” I tell myself. “Five more minutes and I’ll go to sleep.” I spend more time than I’d like to admit looking at my phone when the only thing I should be seeing is the backs of my eyelids.

It’s for this reason exactly that I challenged myself to be without a phone entirely. For a week, I decided, I would use my phone as little as possible. I was struck with anticipation and nervousness as I set upon my task, ready despite the remnants of apprehension that lingered.

My first day started out relatively easy. I didn’t check my phone in the morning, and I didn’t listen to music. I went to school and paid attention to my classes, not much different from how I usually do. Aside from the occasional glance at my phone, I normally don’t use it in class anyway, so this part wasn’t outrageously difficult.

It was when I got home that my only real trouble started. I completed my homework quite quickly and without distraction, which was nice. However, being unable to contact any of my friends or use my phone for entertainment left me bored.

I didn’t realize how much I rely on my phone to keep me entertained until I was left without it.

With that being said, I did find other activities to fill my time with. I read, conversed with my family and organized my room.

Before I knew it, my phone was hardly even on my mind. Eventually though, after I had run out of things to do with my time, I felt the urge to use my phone. Neglecting it, I got ready for bed, went to my room and fell asleep within minutes. I awoke the next day feeling well-rested and refreshed, something I typically don’t experience on the average school day.

I went through my routine as normal, talking with friends and completing my assignments. I got home and interacted with my family. Without the distraction of my phone, I felt much more present and involved in my own life. My interactions seemed more meaningful, my conversations more thoughtful. Everything was going incredibly well.

It was on my third day that I was met with a real obstacle. One of my teachers asked my class to pull out our phones to complete an activity. I figured I would just do it quickly and turn my phone off again, but notifications had amassed during the time I neglected my cell phone, and each one tempted me. A text from a friend, even a notification of a New York Times article appealed to me after going a few days without using it.

From this, I realized how ingrained the use of technology is in our society. Not only are teenagers heavily reliant on technology, phones in particular, but the use of technology in classrooms has become exceedingly prevalent. There are phones everywhere we go, and most young people can’t go very long without looking at their own.

While I was without my phone, I realized just how much everybody else in my life uses theirs. Regardless of whether I was having a conversation with a friend or simply sitting with my family, I noticed the amount of attention we pay to a piece of metal and glass rather than the people around us.

For this reason, I challenge you to put down your phone and pay attention to what matters. Make connections with people, and don’t rely on your phone to do so. Don’t let a piece of technology distract you from the amazing people and experiences right in front of you. You don’t have to get rid of your phone entirely, but make it less of a priority. Engross yourself in conversations and interactions with loved ones instead of being absorbed in technology. Forget your phone, and be more present in your life.