Student encourages readers to put the phone down, “Go outside! Talk to a friend! Clean something!”

Emma Daniel


I feel personally attacked when my phone notifies me my screen time is up from the previous week.

Jeez, iPhone — don’t you know there’s a pandemic on?

There’s sometimes a fleeting moment of clarity in which I think to myself, “Self, you need to get it together. This little computer in your pocket isn’t your life.”

Reader, those fleeting moments of clarity are where real changes can be made. 

I could sing you the normal song and dance of, “Go outside! Talk to a friend! Clean something!”

I believe disconnection from phones begins by understanding just how social media is treating its users. The documentary “The Social Dilemma” is a great explainer.

Social media actively tries to keep you glued to your phone. Ever wonder why Instagram and Facebook tell you about story activity and new posts from people you may or may not care about? 

It’s a concerted effort to generate more ad revenue. The more ads you see, the more likely you’ll click one, and the more ads you click, the more your system will get eerily better at suggesting more ads. 

Once I started viewing my phone as a more malicious entity, it became easier to put it down. 

Part of the appeal of diddling on your phone is the dopamine release. Social media gives you happy chemicals. 

Try finding other things that encourage the happy chemicals. 

One of those for me is completing simple tasks. It makes me feel better to know I’ve done laundry or straightened up my desk or finished up an article. 

Creative outlets are also amazing to get your nose out of your phone. 

I love to throw on a podcast and paint or draw. It helps that I have a lot of supplies, but beginner art sets are relatively inexpensive, and you can start with the less-than-stellar materials to get your style going.  

I’m also fortunate enough to come from a family with an abundance of musical instruments, so I was able to snag a guitar to begin learning. Even if a friend of yours has an instrument, they might be willing to begin teaching you or let you borrow it. 

I’ve also tried the whole meditation thing. Reader, with my ADHD, it isn’t very thrilling; however, I’ve found that doing something as simple as sitting on the porch for a few minutes to listen to birds and read is just as fulfilling.

During the pandemic, it’s somewhat unavoidable to have to be glued to your phone. 

In my case, I’m constantly monitoring social media and sifting through emails to find stories. I also have Microsoft Teams and Canvas to pay attention to for school. 

It’s very hard to delegate between using my phone for work and using my phone for fun, but being mindful about how and why you use your phone is crucial for learning to put it down. 

For my fellow workaholics, boundaries are so important. 

It’s reasonable to say you won’t answer emails after business hours.

I also try to keep my phone on do not disturb after a certain time at night. If I don’t get notifications, I’m much more inclined to not look at it.

The most important part of disconnecting in a connected world is being cognizant of exactly when tech use gets in the way. 

Be aware of when you feel you’re on your phone too much. 

Have you bypassed that annoying guy on TikTok who tells you to stop scrolling?

Yeah, I hate that guy, too. 

You know when you have assignments, but you’re scrolling through Twitter and physically can’t stop? 

I just attacked myself there. 

I hate these are things we have to consider, but ultimately, going a couple hours without looking at Facebook really does wonders for the soul sometimes. 

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