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Thread: The five lessons I learned from breaking my smartphone

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    Elite Member Novice's Avatar
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    Default The five lessons I learned from breaking my smartphone

    The five lessons I learned from breaking my smartphone
    After a washing up disaster, our writer has been without her handheld helper for six weeks. How has she coped?
    Joanne O'Connell
    Tue 24 Jan 2017 09.15 GMT Last modified on Tue 21 Feb 2017 17.04 GMT


    ‘Without my smartphone, I realised how Google dependent I am.’ Photograph: dragana991/Getty/iStockphoto About 2 billion people use smartphones across the globe, with more than half the population in developed countries relying on them daily. In fact, according to research by psychologists, we spend on average about five hours each a day doing so, flicking it on as many as 85 times.
    I was one of those people, until a few weeks ago.
    In my case, going smartphone-free was an accident. There I was doing the washing up, when one of my kids asked me a question about their homework. And as I tried to (surreptitiously) google the answer, I dropped my phone in the sink.
    In the panic that followed, I did exactly what you’re not meant to do: I ripped it open, took out the battery – it was an older Samsung Galaxy model – dried it, then tried to turn the phone back on. But no joy, my smartphone was lost to the world. And for the first 24 hours or so I felt like that too.
    However, six weeks on and I’ve still not replaced it.
    Not yet, anyway. I am going to get a new smartphone. A decision mainly driven by the fear factor: what if the kids’ school can’t get hold of me? What if I get lost in the middle of nowhere without Google Maps? But my digital detox has made me rethink my relationship with my smartphone. Here’s what I’ve learned:
    I sleep better without it


    It turns out that having a Twitter debate at bedtime is not soporific. Admittedly, this shouldn’t really have come as a surprise.
    “Whenever someone likes or retweets you, it stimulates dopamine, the reward centre of your brain. It’s the same part of the brain that’s stimulated by smoking or recreational drugs,” says Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, consultant neuropsychiatrist and medical director at the London Sleep Centre. He adds that smartphones (and other screen-based devices) adversely affect sleep by delaying or interrupting sleep time; stimulating the brain; and affecting sleep cycles and alertness. “You should never sleep with the phone next to you,” he says.
    Others suggest it’s not all bad. Dr David Ellis, a lecturer in computational social science at Lancaster University says: “A lot of the research has relied on estimates of use that don’t consider exactly why people were using their smartphone. There is a big difference for example, between listening to music and replying to an email just before bedtime.”
    However, I found it also made a difference not having my phone there at all, whether I was using it or not. A study by Kings College London and Cardiff University, which looked at children and screen usage, found that sleep can even be significantly disturbed by merely having access to the devices.
    Being contactless is great

    It sounds so trivial but simple things like walking the dog without getting a work call is very restful. While I miss the accessibility a smartphone gives, knowing that no call, text or email alert can interrupt me has cleared my head.
    A break from the constant contact is good for most people’s wellbeing, according to Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind, not least when it comes to social media. He points out that on our smartphone, we’re constantly bombarded with people sharing news about their job, relationship, holiday, presented in the best possible light. “Being exposed to only the best aspects of other people’s lives could lower self-esteem,” he says. Not having a smartphone certainly reduces how often we check.
    Very few things are urgent

    In the past six weeks there have been no work emails, texts or phones calls that I needed to respond to in the time I was cooking, going for a run, talking to my husband or reading my children a bedtime story. I’ve realised there is no need to respond like the emergency services every time a text comes in.
    I’m spending less

    I can’t claim that breaking my smart phone has been a get-rich-quick scheme. However, I did keep forgetting to do buy the groceries because I usually do it on my phone. It’s far easier to pop products into a virtual basket, as you go, on your smartphone than on a laptop and it does mean I tend to spend more.
    I do too much cognitive off-loading

    Without my smartphone – and I don’t own a tablet or iPad – I realised how Google dependent I am. According to a recent study, this may be affecting my thought processes for problem solving, recall and learning. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz and University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign have found that ‘cognitive offloading’, or as they describe it the tendency to rely on things like the internet as an aide-memoire, increases after each use. In other words, the more we reach for our smartphones to tell us the answer, the more likely we are to do it again the next time.
    In effect, we’re using the devices as extra memory, instead of retaining information ourselves, says Dr Lee Hadlington, cyber psychologist at De Montfort University. “When you use your phone to do anything from navigating to storing passwords for you, you’re transferring that information over, instead of keeping it in your own memory. We are remembering the way to get information not the information itself.”
    On one level, I’m not sure it’s a problem. I can just ask Alexa and Google what I need to know, can’t I?
    However, as I’ve discovered, devices do break and it’s good to have a back-up. Even when my new smartphone arrives, I’m going to try and use it a bit less. With some practice maybe I’ll be able to answer to those homework questions myself.
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    Great post and I agree with all of it. On the rare occasions my phone is simultaneously with me and charged most of the calls/txts I do get are spam anyway. And I discovered very quickly that NOTHING IS REALLY URGENT.
    If all the women in this place were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be surprised - Dorothy Parker

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    Elite Member manningmsj's Avatar
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    I can see this. I was always a pretty good speller, but I find myself misspelling words lately when I write because I am so used to autocorrect. I also find that I read less since I've gotten a smart phone. I still read novels and biographies, but I have always been annoyingly curious. In the past, if I wondered what the etiquette was in a certain social situation (for example, addressing invitations - do you put and guest or the name of your invitee's significant other if they are unmarried? - friend is getting married and I have become defacto wedding planner for the simple fact that I am married), I would buy or borrow a book on the subject in order to learn the correct way. Now I just google that shit.

    However, I have always had a horrible sense of direction (I once ended up at Six Flags Great Adventure trying to take the turnpike from East Brunswick to Woodbridge - NJ posters will know how inept this make me). So I am super grateful for GPS and google maps. I'd never make it home without them.

    Also, totally agree that likes and faves can keep you up. I get super excited to see a new like on this forum and have to immediately see which comment it was for, then reread the entire thread and all new comments. I have definitely lost sleep thread hopping on GR. God help me if I had a Twitter.
    Nevan likes this.
    My doctor says that I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes.- Douglas Adams

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    Elite Member Nevan's Avatar
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    I think I'm a very good speller too, but I feel like I've lost the magic with autocorrect over the years. I've always been one that proofs my texts or posts and used to be pretty good on the money, but again, I think I've lost some of that. Sometimes I'll go back into a thread I've participated in and wonder wtf was at the keyboard when my message was posted ... words missing, spelling incorrect. I won't even go into how badly my son types ANYTHING because of his reliance on autocorrect ... it makes me weep for the future.

    Yeah, that's not the way to Great Adventure, lol. I also have a severely broken sense of direction and I use Waze all the time, not just for direction, but also for arrival time, traffic, etc. I have a factory 9" navigation system in my vehicle and I haven't used it in years, I prefer Waze (the only time it comes on is when the back up camera engages). With our ridiculously expensive (seriously, one of my highest monthly bills) unlimited data, I don't even think about it anymore .... whereas before the unlimited data, at least I stopped to think whether I needed the GPS on or not. I'm the type that can get lost in my own hometown/town. If the people on the cross street to get to my house changed their house in any way, especially removing the white picket fence in the front, I'd drive right by it and I've owned this house for over 20 years.

    I use Apple's Screen Time (it tells you your weekly screen time and breaks it down to where you're spending the most time ... social, texting, etc.) on my phone and iPad. While I think I'm on both a lot, it's really not too bad. But I don't have it on my MacBook Pro luckily, because I'm on that a LOT. I only read most of my favorite sites on the iPad or laptop, never on my phone (I find it very annoying) but I do jump on FB or something if I'm having trouble sleeping and I usually fall down a rabbit hole of videos. I try really hard to not use my electronics in bed (except for the alarm). Once that bright light breaks the darkness in my bedroom, it usually takes a long time to fall back asleep and insomnia is my kryptonite.
    "Please, I can't breathe."

    We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.

  5. #5
    Bronze Member gene2311's Avatar
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    South Park


    I agree, It's important to spend time away from electronics, to engage in the real world around us and build proper relationships.

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