Phone Detox

I thought you be interested that I asked my NYU stress in the music industry class to give up their phones for a day and/or cutback on social media.

They were not happy with me – one student piped up and said “will you give your phone up, too, professor?” and after getting a commitment from 39 people to match me if I did, I agreed.

They admitted it was hard to do – to be fair, some weren’t ready.  I also found it difficult to get started but as with my students, I liked what I gained – and here it is.

I didn’t miss out on anything.  Felt more in control.  Did other things I’ve been missing.  Changed the behavior of those around me by becoming more present.

Our children get phones at too early an age – that’s not my observation, that’s psychologists and physicians.

Adults are just as bad – turning to phones for support, comfort and trying not to miss out.

One student said they wanted to keep the phone so they could call a parent who could help them when they had a problem.  Before phones, young folks had to develop resilience in lieu of a life line call.

The exercise was not to eliminate the use of phones but to regain control over them.

Then I drove out of the city, saw drivers on the Turnpike with phone in hand going 85 miles an hour and later read a story about a 9 year old girl near where I live who committed suicide because of bullying.

I also read an article about a teacher who was beaten up by a student when they took away the student’s phone.

Here’s what my students say they learned by tackling this drill:

We are capable of enjoying our digital devices with us in charge not the algorithm writers of Google, Facebook, TikTok and many others – that was universally empowering.

FOMO is a false fear – we gain time and improve our lives, we don’t miss out on anything.

If we want work/life balance, we can start by regaining control over how we spend our digital life.