How Students Can Break Up With Their Phones

How to get the dopamine hits we crave without staring at the screen.

Photo Courtesy/ Unsplash Robin Worrall

No matter the place, people are staring into various little screens; soaking in the latest news, TikTok trends, Twitter arguments and whatever else these devices provide. After long days of using our brains for school and work, all students want to do at the end of the day is wind down with something mind-numbing. So, we grab our phones and subject ourselves to hours of mindlessness. 

Studies have shown that excess phone usage — particularly social media use — has contributed to increased anxiety and depression among users. But this idea isn’t new. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram are filled with videos that talk about the harmful phenomena of living our lives consumed by technology. 

Cell phones have become so ingrained in our daily lives that it has become second nature to be gripping those little devices at all times. “I’ve had an iPhone since I was in 6th grade. I haven’t really known myself without my phone,” senior MaryKate Ames said. It’s time to get to know oneself sans technology. Here are various ways for students to finally break away from this toxic relationship. 

Separate your needs 

People use their screens for work, play, news, alarm clocks, weather forecasts, list writing and whatever else daily life entails. Separating each task allows for the grasp on our phones to loosen.

If an alarm clock is needed, try purchasing a real one. Amazon is full of affordable clocks that work just the same as a phone and provide aesthetic bedroom decor. Using an alarm clock in place of a phone, the urge to scroll through social media first thing in the morning is more likely to drop, and stress levels will follow suit. When students check their phones after waking up, the remainder of the day can be filled with overwhelming stress. Getting an alarm clock allows us to start the day without that unneeded stress.  

Additionally, find ways to complete daily tasks unrelated to the phone. Instead of the Calendar app, buy a planner, use a pen and paper for lists and most importantly, find sources of fun that are not found in the screens. 

Find non-screen entertainment 

When boredom strikes, many people may reach for their phones. This relief, however, is all but mindless. When we scroll, we subject ourselves to overwhelming amounts of information, most likely more than what we consumed that day in real life. We see pictures of rare fish at the bottom of the ocean, videos of a “Karen” fight that happened thousands of miles away and “get ready with me” videos. When we enter our phones, we enter into a portal of little glimpses of millions of lives all around the world, scroll after scroll after scroll. And we think that’s relaxing? 

Instead, exit the portal and focus on your own existence. Do little things that make you happy, and don’t feel the pressure to share them with others. Get a crossword puzzle or sudoku book. Take up knitting or sewing, play an instrument, cook, bake or make art. There are so many sources of entertainment outside of those little rectangles. These options can bring satisfaction while leaving phones out of the equation.

Step outside 

While stepping outside can be the most basic of solutions — the one we’re all probably tired of hearing — there is truth and evidence to stepping outside. When going outside, stress levels are reduced and connections are built with those around us. We also become exposed to the sunlight, receiving all the vitamins we need from it. 

Outside we can experience screenless entertainment and connections through playing sports, hiking or walking, going to a coffee shop, talking to the clerk at the local convenience store, exploring, starting your own garden or countless other activities. Even enjoying typically indoor activities like reading a book or doing a craft can be done in the great outdoors. 

Enjoying the outdoors can be done without the aid of Apple, Samsung or Google. It’s outside where we can discover new interests and friends without thinking about our phones. 

Fueling the addiction is so much easier than fighting it. However, there is so much outside our screens that is  much greater than whatever the little device provides. Allow yourself to be bored, as creativity is inspired by it. Allow yourself to watch the world go by; the trends can wait. By breaking up with our phones, we allow ourselves to live more wholesome and fulfilling lives, free of unnecessary stress.