Like most teens, I’m addicted to my phone. So I decided to see how I’d cope without it for a week.

I wanted to do this to ‘reset’ my relationship with my phone. I often find that I use my phone as a way to kill time or to avoid social situations, and I wanted to challenge myself to be a little more productive, especially with exams just around the corner. I felt as well that it was time to reevaluate my relationship with technology slightly, as over the last few years I’ve become more dependant on it than I’d like to be.  

Before starting I spoke to one of my school friends who’s never owned a smartphone, as I was interested to hear her perspective on the topic:

Why have you chosen not to have a smartphone? What, in your opinion, are the advantages of this?
I enjoy having my own space at home and don’t want to be tied to social media. I own a brick phone for the practicality of being able to call and text but if I want to speak to someone properly I’ll just talk to them face to face.

What are some disadvantages to you of not owning a smartphone? For example, has there ever been a time when you’ve felt ‘out of the loop’ as a result of not having access to social media platforms such as WhatsApp?
Generally it’s fine as my friends are able to relay messages to me through text or email when necessary. One downside is that I don’t have an easily accessible camera (to take photos, for example, of the board in class) however I just copy the information down. 

How much time do you normally spend using your brick phone?
Normally not much at all. I don’t tend to have long conversations over the phone so I mainly use it for quick messages and sometimes as an alarm. Sometimes I don’t use it in a day at all! 

What do you like to do in your downtime? Even though you don’t use your phone a lot do you still use your computer often, for example?
I use the computer sometimes to watch videos or research online but most of my downtime activities aren’t screen related, such as doing sport, playing music, reading or talking with my family. I rarely watch TV but when I do it’s normally to watch sporting events such as football matches or the marathon. 

The majority of people nowadays rely on their smartphones heavily. Do you think that our generation should be making more of an effort to spend time away from screens?
I don’t have much of an opinion on other people’s habits. Personally I find screens quite intrusive and like to keep my home life and ‘outside life’ separate, but I don’t mind other people using them. My whole family doesn’t really use technology so it’s just what I’m used to. 

With that, it was time to swap my iPhone 8 for my first ever phone; the Nokia 100.

Overall, this was certainly a challenging week! The aspect of having a smartphone that I missed the most was, in fact, the ability to access everything while away from home. As early as my first day without my phone, I encountered a problem when I couldn’t access some revision notes that I needed. I’d completely forgotten that I didn’t have the notes app on my phone, and had to get my mum to email the notes to me! I didn’t realise how much I use my phone on the go, whether it’s to check the weather, make notes or listen to music, and that’s something I really missed during this week. I also use some tools such as outfit planners, which I missed as well as I really enjoy using them.     

Interestingly, I noticed that I didn’t miss social media that much. Although I have a tendency to spend hours scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, I have taken short breaks from social media before, often for longer than a week. As I’ve spent much of this week working and revising as well, I didn’t have as much downtime to spend mindlessly scrolling. I did miss it, however, over the weekend when I met new friends at a party and wasn’t able to follow them on Instagram and Snapchat. I normally spend a lot of time on messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook messenger too, but oddly I didn’t miss these nearly as much as I thought I would. 
It often strikes me that I’m one of the youngest people to remember a time when smartphones weren’t the norm. Neither of my parents had smartphones until I was nine, and I wasn’t allowed to watch YouTube until I was eleven! It’s not uncommon today for toddlers to be glued to their iPads, and at the risk of sounding like your grouchy, middle-aged neighbour I’m glad that my screen time was more restricted growing up. If there’s anything I’ve learnt this week it’s how useful smartphones are, but I worry sometimes that as a society we’ve tipped the balance too far. Would I do this again? Maybe. I’ll certainly keep my brick phone handy just in case!