This blog post was originally published on November 22, 2013 and was written by Jani Radhakrishnan.
A 2013 Mobile Consumer Habit survey reported that 72% of U.S. adults that own smartphones keep it within five feet of them the majority of the time. [Mine is currently about 8 inches away from my computer!] That same study reported that out of 1102 respondents, 55% USED their smartphone while driving, 33% while on a date, 12% in the shower, and 20% of adults ages 18-34….during sex. O2 released a study that indicated that the ‘phone’ function on a smartphone is the fifth most frequently used function. In fact, the study reports that smartphones now replace alarm clocks, cameras, televisions, and physical books.
Have you seen this creative video representing our addiction to phones?
Or read this news article about a San Francisco train shooting where “passengers were too distracted by phones to notice the shooter’s gun in plain sight”? With all this new ‘connectivity,’ we are not actually connecting to the world and the people around us. In fact, surveys indicate that 13% of cell phone owners pretend to use their phone to avoid interacting with people around them.
The other day, my phone died while waiting for the bus [It was horrible!]. So, rather than staring mindlessly in to space, I made some small-talk with a guy heading to Carrboro and told him he could take the J and not wait 45 minutes for the CW. It felt good. It got me thinking….
It’s time to UNPLUG! I have come up with a 10 day challenge, and I invite you to try it with me. Since we all have work, school, and social lives, I have fairly realistic expectations. Still, I think we can semi-unplug from the world more often than we think. So, here it is:
Jani’s 10 day Challenge of Unplugging
- Day 1 Friday: When you’re out with a partner or friend, make a deal to keep your phones in your pockets, bags, etc.
- Day 2 Saturday: It’s the weekend! Do not check your work or school email accounts. Not even once.
- Day 3 Sunday: Invest in a watch! Since it is Sunday, maybe you have some time to go find one. This way, you can check your watch for the time instead of your phone.
- Day 4 Monday: Read the DTH or a hardcopy of some magazine or newspaper to check out any local events happening this week.
- Day 5 Tuesday: Do not spend all day at a computer. Time yourself so that every hour, you get up and walk around for about 5 minutes. During that time, say hi to a colleague, another student, or a friend. Whatever you do, do not take your phone with you.
- Day 6 Wednesday: While eating meals, keep your phone in a separate room, on silent.
- Day 7 Thursday: At work, your room, or the library, open your email only twice per hour. [Coming from someone who permanently keeps the email tab open while on my computer, I know this will be my biggest challenge]
- Day 8 Friday: When you are watching television, and a commercial comes on, do anything other than pulling out your phone. Maybe even jumping jacks!
- Day 9 Saturday: If the weather is nice, enjoy the outdoors! Go for a hike or to the park, and leave your phone at home or in the car. [If you do not feel safe, keep your phone with you but do not look at it!] If it is rainy or cold outside, enjoy a hot beverage of your choice and a movie in the comfort of your own home, and turn your phone completely off during this time.
- Day 10 Sunday: It is the last day of the challenge and I am hoping that tomorrow we can return to work or school feeling completely rejuvenated and ready to take on the world. What are we going to do to celebrate? Find a moment to answer a text with a phone call or Skype date instead of another text.
[TIPS for Success: Hey iPhone users, did you know there is a function on your phone called “Do Not Disturb” that will save incoming calls, messages, and alerts for later until you unlock your phone?]
My hope is that together, we can all unplug from this world and be in the moment for at least 10 days and continue some of these habits for our minds’ sake. You will be happier, your friends will be happier, and your mental health and boss or professor may be happier, too!