A Week Without a Phone
By Dustin Kerney and Jada WIlliams
April 5, 2016
Teachers, like a broken record, beg students to “put away your phones” and then give a generic monologue about “kids these days not being able go five minutes without their phone.” Many will take up your phone if it becomes an issue and continue to lecture on teens and their incapability to separate themselves from a screen.To challenge and prove that phones aren’t essential, two Bobcat Times staff members reluctantly give up their phones for one week.
Day 1: I’m having withdrawals, my entire body is shaking… I am not sure I can go on. But this, of course, is not accurate. One day without a phone is no big deal; most students have gone through this simply because their phone has died in the morning.
I must be candid. I did technically break the rules by playing a word game on a friend’s phone. I immediately checked my text messages, Twitter, and email as soon as I got my phone back. The first day was doable, but I am not looking forward to the rest of the week without my phone.
Day 2: It is only nine o’clock and I already want my phone back to listen to music while I work. Phones are “banned” in my second and third block, and the only time I can use it is in first and fourth block. In my fourth block, I have noticed that I am the only one who ever uses my phone during lessons. I am realizing how little I need my phone in school, and I just assumed it was a necessity.
Day 3: I hear students around me talking about snapchat; I immediately check my pocket to grab my phone but only find disappointment. My desire to listen to music is growing, and as the week goes on, this is what I miss the most. I usually bring my laptop to school because my physics work is online, but too much temptation is offered to log on and go to YouTube or iTunes. This experiment is helping me see that phones are not an essential part to my day, and I even think that I check it less when I have it now.
Day 4: For personal reasons I had my phone one me today, but I stuck to my commitment and did not use any social media or message my friends. I was surprised by my level of self-control and this experiment helped me curve a bad habit. Throughout the week I have only needed my phone once, and any other time would have simply been a convenience but it is easy to go through the day without it. There is no worry that my friends are tweeting important things or texting me with need-to-know information because it will be there when I get my phone back at 3:30. Only one day left; Jada and I are so close to the finish line.
Day 5: It’s day five and I gave up my phone for the last day. If I make it through today, I can proudly say I survived a school week without my phone. I faced my toughest challenge yet: a substitute teacher. Most students know that a substitute means that some sort of busy work will be completed and turned in when the teacher returns. Students all around me have their phones out and I am starting to rot away due to boredom, but I made it through. The rest of the day was smooth sailing and getting my phone back at 3:30 was a relief. I learn that Jada did not finish the “challenge” which boosts my pride knowing that I was able to rise to the occasion.
What I learned: I think not having my phone on me helped me concentrate in classes and I strongly encourage others to try this for a couple days and see if it makes a difference for them in class. If Mrs. Turner were to ask me if I could do this for another week, the answer would be yes; if I would want to do it all over again would be another question entirely.
Day 1: “Oh… we start the experiment today?” I ask, the anxiety apparent in my voice. Mrs. Turner nods her head and holds out her palm as I reluctantly hand her my iPhone. Seconds later, I walk out of the journalism room and begin to dig for my phone in my backpack before snapping back to reality. That’s when I realize I have a problem.
I spend second block doing homework in the broadcast control room in the library. I am engrossed in my English essay, which is unusual for someone with A.D.D. like myself. I consider that this could be because my concentration wasn’t regularly broken by the stupefying iPhone notification ringtone.
During lunch, I observe the quotes written on the cafeteria walls. I am tantalized by the urge to look at my phone while I walk back to class just like everyone else is doing.
I attempt to find other things besides my phone to distract myself during class. This proves to be easy, especially in Ms. Blanchard’s room (which is covered in algebra pun posters and everything pi-related).
As I walk back to my car after dismissal, I realize I never retrieved my phone from Mrs. Turner once I attempt to grab it out of my bag. I dart back to her classroom, pick up my phone, and eagerly review my notifications tab. I have 3 missed calls and a message from my mom and several texts from my friends and coworkers. Seeing all of these messages full of requests, demands, plans, and obligations all at once makes me wonder how I don’t lose my mind on a daily basis.
Day 2: I am absent from school this day, but I decide to honor the requirements of the experiment. I hand my phone over to my mom in the morning and spend the majority of the school day sleeping and recovering. I wake up around 2:30 and clean my room, wash the dishes, and rid my room of my old, unwanted items. These are tasks that I’m usually never able to complete.
I lay in my bed and contemplate my entire life. I wonder if I actually have A.D.D. or if I’m just addicted to my phone.
Day 3: I am adjusted to not having my phone during the school day by the third day of the experiment. I realize that I’m more involved in my lessons during class, although the A.D.D. is still hindering my attention span; however, I don’t have a phone to contribute to my procrastination problem. I’m not going to pretend like not being able to communicate with people quickly wasn’t an inconvenience, though. Luckily, I’m a senior with a car and a job, so I’m fairly independent and able to rely on myself for most things. If I were a freshman or a sophomore again, I imagine this week would be even more stressful.
Day 4: On day four, I feel a small hint of optimism knowing that this experiment is nearing its end. I have several things to do today, and not having my phone to plan it all out during my free time complicates the whole process. With an over-the-phone prom dress consultation due, my friend’s birthday weekend to plan, a beauty pageant to prepare for, and several group projects to complete, I spend the majority of the day feeling too stressed about my outside commitments to pay attention during my lessons. Once 3:30 hits, I am overwhelmed by obligations that could have been settled hours before, had I had my phone during lunch or my free period. I end up missing out on my bi-weekly prom dress payment to take care of my other obligations, and nearly lose all the money I already put on layaway just two weeks before prom. Fortunately, Bella Boutique allows me to come in and make my payment on Saturday instead.
Day 5: On day five I am too distracted by my own responsibilities to remember to turn my phone in to Mrs. Turner in the morning. Once I realize this near the end of first block, I feel an immediate sense of relief knowing that this maddening experiment is finished. I’m able to communicate with other Bobcat Times staff members about publishing and editing the broadcast, which makes things flow a lot more smoothly.
What I learned: Reflecting on my experience, I would have to say that not having your phone during school for a long period of time causes more problems than it solves- that is, if you’re anything like me. I am a sociable, busy young woman with several obligations in and out of the Central High School building. Not having my phone allowed me to focus during class for the first couple of days, but by the end of the week I was so overloaded with important outside tasks to complete that I couldn’t really involve myself in my lessons.
Surprisingly it boosts my confidence knowing that I was unable to finish the experiment, because I realize the vitality of my position in my community and society. I realize that several people rely on me throughout the entire day, and I am able to appreciate my own efforts to maintain balance on a daily basis despite the chaos that surrounds me. However, if you’re a student with a more simple, stable schedule, I would definitely recommend shutting down the screens during school hours and taking a good look around you. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.