Unsocial Media: The Results Are In

The results are in.  I would’ve never guessed I use my phone as much as the app I installed says I do, but I guess that’s the whole point, right?  To put it there in black and white numbers so there’s no denying it.  When I read that the average person uses their phone 3 or more hours per day, I thought to myself, “there’s NO way I even come close to that!  Three hours a day?  That’s absurd!  I probably won’t even come close to that”.  Before i tell you my “number”, I want to tell you some of the things I’ve learned about my phone usage over the last two weeks, as well as some of the good and bad things that came of this little experiment.

The app I installed is called Moment.  It’s free, and it was mentioned in the book I read about technology addiction, so that’s why I chose it.  I’m sure there are more options out there if you want to explore.  This one is always running in the background so that it can track how long you use an app, and also counts the number of times you pick up your phone!  Honestly, I was as disturbed with how many times I pick up my device as how much I use it!

The first few days I was really conscious about racking up time and pick-ups.  I was actively trying NOT to use my phone, and when I did I was trying to limit my time.  So, the first few days probably weren’t the truest picture.  Charlie, my fiancé, also installed the app on his phone, so it became a healthy competition between us.  We had both already acknowledged that we were using our phones too much when we set out on this experiment, so we were open to changing our behavior.  We found that when we would get back from doing something, or finished with a task, our first instinct was to reach for our phones.  Any down time we found ourselves reaching, almost involuntarily!  So, we tried to find other things to do.  We ended up spending a lot more time outside throwing frisbee for the dogs, we went to a lecture on herpetology, participated in a nighttime nature walk to learn about nocturnal animals, and read more.  All great things!

A couple of not so great things were we realized how much we were actually using our devices, and how tempting it was to use them when in a vehicle.  I know using your phone while driving isn’t legal in NC, and I’m not debating that it should be.  I’m just acknowledging that when I’m in a car for more than 30 minutes, I’m very tempted to pick up my device.  And if I’m a passenger….WOW….the numbers really go up on those trips!

I’ve also noticed that without actually trying to “cheat”, I found myself “cheating”.  I’ve been on my laptop way more than usual for the last couple of weeks, and I’m pretty sure I’m subconsciously trying to reduce my time on my phone since that pesky app is running.  I’m competitive y’all, what can I say?  And one more interesting observation I noted that was the longer the experiment goes on, the less alarmed I am and the less I care about the app tracking my usage in the background.  This is probably giving me a more accurate reading of my usage, but it’s quite alarming that it only took a week for me to be like “meh, it is what it is”.  UNTIL!

Until I saw my weekly numbers.  So here it is folks….airing my dirty device laundry.  For week two I used my phone for an average of 2 hours and 10 minutes and picked it up an average of 93 times PER DAY!  That’s approximately 15 hours a week!  That’s a part-time job!  With that being said, this includes actual talking on the phone, which attributes to 4.3 hours for the week, 90 minutes of which is my online class I’m taking.  And the only other “permissible” time in my eyes is the 1.4 hours of the week which was spent on my meditation app.  The rest…worthless.  3.5 hours on Instagram for the week, which I can assure you was not being “social”.  I don’t think I messaged or spoke with anyone from that arena.  Two hours was spent on Safari, which I do use a lot for looking up and researching, but I couldn’t even tell you what I might’ve looked at for two whole hours.  Add an hour for mail and another for texting, and you’ve got nearly the fifteen hours I feel like I wasted last week.

It’s really kind of scary how much I don’t want to use my device, but how hard it is to stop! I guess it’s like any other addiction, there has to be enough pain in order for someone to stop.  What we have implemented is a rule that we can never say we “don't’ have enough time” to do something.  We have plenty of time, at least fifteen more hours a week in fact, it’s just how we choose to use it.  Going forward, I think I might delete the social media apps I still have on my phone to see if the whole “out of sight, out of mind” adage works.  I’ve also started taking whatever book I’m reading with me so I have an alternative behavior that I feel is more beneficial.  Overall, I feel a little disappointed that my usage is more than I would’ve ever imagined, but good that I am now aware.  It all starts with awareness!  Onward!

Jessica Hauser