Being aware of your screens

Tegan Johnson

You’re probably addicted to your phone


I had never thought of myself as a person who was addicted to their phone. It wasn’t until I was forced to confront my phone usage for a class that I realized how much time I was really wasting.

Confronting one’s phone usage is a practice I would encourage everyone to do. It is a valuable reality check as to how you spend your time and an opportunity for self-reflection.

This quarter in her Writing 1100 class, Dr. Peg Achterman is focusing on how the technology we have today is affecting our everyday lives.

Do our smartphones have more benefits than drawbacks? Is the fact that information is so easy to access a good thing? Should we praise or criticize our reliance on this technology?

One of our first assignments was to download the Moment app, which tracks how often the user is on their device. It counts the number of pickups, how long the phone is on, which apps are being used and what percentage of the day is spent on the phone.

According to the app, most users spend about 23 percent of their day on their phones — that’s about five and a half hours!

That number blew me away. I thought that my phone usage would be less than average. I believed that my usage habits were perfectly normal and healthy; maybe I use my phone a little more than I probably should, but it’s not a huge part of my life.

I didn’t see anything wrong with how I use my smartphone — there was no way I spent hours and hours on my phone, wasting away in front of a tiny screen.

After using the app for a few days, I found that I was completely wrong.

I was shocked to find that I was spending anywhere from three, four or even five hours on my phone each day, even when I thought I was cutting down on my usage.

This experience has revealed my misconceptions about screen time addiction. I may not be using my phone for that much longer than the average person, but I’m still glued to the screen for a longer amount of time than I would like to be.

Every minute I spent on my phone, scrolling through Instagram, sending Snapchats and texting my suite-mate next door was really a minute wasted. Each moment not having a face-to-face interaction with someone I care about is a moment wasted; this time is just empty time.

There’s no reason for me to be so concerned with pictures on a five-inch screen.

Everyone ought to examine their own phone usage, as it is a valuable tool for self-reflection. Consider how you want to be spending your time, and compare that to the data from your iPhone’s Screen Time or the stats shown in Moment.

If you’re like me, you might delete a few apps. Building friendships and bonds with others in person is more important than connections we get from our phones.

This experiment undeniably opened my eyes to the addictiveness of my smartphone. The technology at our fingertips can be isolating at times, and once we focus on relationships with others, we can thrive in our community.

I hope that others can see the value in reflecting in the same way and consider being more intentional with the time we spend on our phone instead of with people we love.