Cellphones: necessity or accessory?

By Alexander Figueroa

During high school, most teens enjoy using their cellular devices for a variety of reasons: communication, games, surfing the web. Most would balk at the idea of giving up their phone for an entire month, but I decided to give it a go. It was worth extra credit in journalism so I volunteered. How hard could it be?

In January I handed over my iPhone to my mom. As she walked away with it, I had second thoughts. My fingers twitched. I couldn’t fathom being without it for that long, but it would be worth it for the extra credit. My grades were the higher priority.

The first couple of days were pretty easy since I only talk to a selective number of people. Instead of being on my phone, I found other things to pass time. I went outside and exercised.

Since social media wasn’t taking a toll on my life, I had more time for homework and sleep, and I noticed a gradual increase in my academic grades.”

As the first week was coming to a close, I tried to figure out how talk to friends, which was difficult because I don’t live anywhere near them. Instead, we made plans to do things while we were at school, but everything got complicated when they couldn’t get ahold of me to adjust the plans.

Two weeks passed, and I started to become lonesome. My phone was my direct line to my friends, so instead of hanging out so much with them, I spent a lot of time with my family. This was a real eye-opener because it showed me why I wasn’t with my family as much: I was usually consumed with my phone and friends.

To pass the time at home, I bonded with my younger siblings since I had nothing else to do. My little brothers and sister were doing arts and crafts and messing around, so I joined in on the fun. I definitely took note that I should value some quality time with my family more than some other priorities.

By the third week, however, I was not only lonely, but also metaphorically dying of boredom. I had to find things to do. Instead of playing games on my phone, I was practically outside the entire time. Since social media wasn’t taking a toll on my life, I had more time for homework and sleep, and I noticed a gradual increase in my academic grades.

Finally, the fourth week arrived, and I was having phone cravings. An addict must feel something like this—yearning for social media, my games, information at my fingertips—and no fulfillment. I never thought I’d have such an issue without my phone, but it definitely affected my social life as well as well as my life at school. Some people acted distant since we hadn’t been in contact.

When I got my phone back, it was a huge relief. Finally I could be in contact with my friends in the way we were accustomed to. I went right to Twitter and sent out a blast—let’s make plans for lunch.

What did I learn from this case study? It is important to have a social outlet: I need to be able to hang out with my friends. But not only friends. To have a healthy balance, I need to make time for my family as well. There has to be time for school, too, and for me, my phone had become a big distraction.