I am breaking up with my phone

MacKenzie Peterson

My name is MacKenzie and I am addicted to my phone.  

From the moment I wake up to the moment I get into bed for the end of the day, my phone is in my hand. It has taken me a long time to admit it to myself, but I truly am addicted to my phone.  

I have had dreams of losing my phone and will wake up looking for it frantically. Mini heart attacks when I cannot feel it in my pocket. Butterflies in my stomach when I can hear it buzz in my backpack but there are still 20 minutes left of this no-phone-allowed class.  

Every single person I have met, within a few years of my age, has experienced these same feelings in response to the small glass and metal rectangle practically sewn into their hand.  

I feel privileged to remember a time before having a phone and a tablet or computer readily available for me to use. I would read for hours, play outside with my friends and stay occupied with who knows what for hours.  

I am not saying this to sound like an old person. Do not get me wrong, I love my phone and all the benefits that I have from it.  

Yet sometimes I do feel sad for my youngest sister and how she has grown up with an iPad in her hand. Yes, she did still play outside and found different ways to keep herself occupied, but a large portion of her days were spent on the family iPad watching YouTube videos.  

This year, an unofficial new year’s resolution of mine is to cut down the amount of time I spend on my phone. I believe this will be difficult for many different reasons. 

Being a college student, I need to stay up to date on assignments, check and respond to emails and do an online reading for classes. As a person with a job, I also need to be accessible to my co-workers and boss. As a human being, my friends often reach out to me through my phone, and I also enjoy going on it to simply relax and not think about whatever is plaguing my existence that day. 

I also now live two hours away from my mother. She and I usually text back and forth a few times every day to just keep up on each other’s lives. For all these reasons, plus more, I cannot simply go cold turkey and give up my phone.  

However, I have come up with some choices to incorporate into my life to better manage my time on my phone. Some of these may be helpful for others, so I felt the need to share them.  

Notifications have always been a huge hit of dopamine for me. Having notification after notification bombard my phone and buzz around in my pocket is not good for me. I am planning on turning my notification off for all social media apps and only leaving my text message notifications on. The people in my life who are important and who need to regularly reach me have my number and can text me anytime.  

Instead of scrolling on TikTok for hours before bed, I will either listen to a podcast with my screen turned on or listen to an audiobook. This is helpful because, technically I am still using my phone, but by having something preoccupying the screen and stimulating my mind, I will be less likely to revert to mindless scrolling.  

This is something I will also be doing in the mornings. Instead of immediately checking Instagram or Twitter, I plan to listen to something, possibly some news outlet. This will help me stop doom-scrolling for hours on end, telling myself “One more video, and then I will go do XYZ.” 

Deleting apps when I am not using them is also something helpful and simple. I am a lazy person at heart. There will be times that I do not feel like having to redownload an app and log back in, so I simply will not.  

This is a great avenue to becoming not only more productive with my time but purposeful with what I do with it. I mean, how badly do I really want to scroll through TikTok? What am I truly getting out of it aside from a few small laughs at jokes I will forget within the next four videos?  

When I am with friends, I am aware of the time I spend on my little device. I keep my phone in my pocket, under my leg or on the table.  

I try to be fully engaged in whatever the conversation is about. I focus on my friends and the activity we are participating in. Staying in the moment feels a lot better than any kind of serotonin I would get from the little pictures and videos on my phone.  

Cutting my phone out of my life is not realistic in the slightest and is something I know would fail for me immediately.  

But taking small and reasonable steps towards having more meaningful moments on my phone is doable for me and many other people. You and I can both take these steps to have a better relationship without phones, but you need to want it! So, next time you go to grab your phone to mindlessly scroll, stop and ask yourself what it is you are really looking for.