How to Break Up With Your Phone
Yesterday I spent the afternoon reading the first section of Catherine Price’s new book—How to Break Up With Your Phone.
The first part of the book is designed to freak readers out. Price explains, "It’s a synthesis of how and why are phones are designed to be hard to put down, and what effect spending so much time on them may be having on our relationships and our mental and physical health."
The second half of the book—which I started reading this morning—includes a 30-day plan "designed to help you establish a new, healthier relationship with your phone."
Since I broke up with social media in March, my relationship with my phone—and technology in general—is healthier. I spend an average of an hour a day on my phone (compared to 2-3 hours a day in January and February. As an aside, I track my phone usage with an app called Moment). I’m happy that I’m spending less time on my phone, but I know I can do better. For example, I’d like to pick my phone up less (I average 50 pick-ups a day), and not feel compelled to respond to text messages instantly.
Price’s book is excellent, and I’m pondering a lot of the ideas she brought up in section one.
Below are quotes by Price that I’m reflecting on. They make excellent journaling fodder:
- “Americans check their phones about 47 times per day. For people between 18 and 24, the average is 82. Collectively, this adds up to more than 9 billion phone checks every day.
- On average, Americans spend more than 4 hours a day on their phones. That amounts to about 28 hours a week, 112 hours a month, or 56 full days a year.
- Global ad spending on social media in 2016 was $31 billion, almost double what it was just two years before.
- ...a New York Times analysis calculated that as of 2014, Facebook users were spending a collective 39,757 years’ worth of attention on the site, every single day. It’s attention that we didn’t spend on our families, or our friends, or ourselves. And just like time, once we’ve spent attention, we can never get it back.
- While research on these devices is in its early stages (unsurprisingly, given that they’ve barely been around for ten years), what is known so far suggests that spending extended time on them has the power to change both the structure and function of our brains—including our abilities to form new memories, think deeply, focus, and absorb and remember what we read. Multiple studies have associated the heavy use of smartphones (especially when used for social media) with negative effects on neuroticism, self-esteem, impulsivity, empathy, self-identity, and self-image, as well as with sleep problems, anxiety, stress, and depression.”
Price’s book is helping me rethink my relationship with my smartphone. For years, I thought my phone was the perfect tool because I could use it for phone calls, text messages, e-mail, photography, and more. My perspective is shifting, though. My time on the planet isn’t going to last forever, and I want to make sure I’m spending my minutes, hours, and days engaging in activities that foster growth and joy.