Here it is…the first challenge!
*To get right to the challenge and questions to think about, scroll down!*
For this first week-long challenge, the focus is going to be on our use of phones. Besides a select few, most people spend way too much time interacting with their phones and not enough time interacting with other people. Although these two different interactions aren’t necessarily correlated, we often let them become so.
We take out our phones when we’re sitting alone, instead of making eye contact and maybe having a conversation with someone near us. We don’t lift our eyes from our phone when someone is speaking to us, but we tell them we’re “listening” (while we scroll through Instagram). We use our phones to connect and share cheap entertainment instead of taking the time to get to know someone on a deeper level.
Phones are not inherently bad, but it’s so easy to misuse them and let them affect our relationships with other people. This is one reason it’s such a great place to begin as an exercise in mindfulness. Becoming more mindful about our phone usage has the potential to keep us from wasting precious time, improve our mental clarity and most importantly, improve our relationships.
One study done at Baylor University and published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, found that women were on their phones an average of 10 hours per day, and men almost 8 hours. That probably sounds crazy, but when you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, email, texting, calling, Facetiming. The hours add up. Obviously not everything people use their phones for is bad or a waste of time, but think of everything you could do in that time that would be way more productive.
Another reason to rethink the way we use our phones is the significant distraction it creates which takes us away from something we’re supposed to be working on. Our brains react to novelty, so it can take 25 minutes to refocus after a distraction like a ping or a pop-up notification on a phone. Projects and work can seem to take longer and more thought – because you’re constantly going back and forth between the phone and the activity. The times I put all my attention into something and have very few distractions, I realize it doesn’t actually take as long as I always think it will. That definitely isn’t an easy thing to do though!
We look for connection with other people through our phone when we’re sitting with people in person. Recent studies have suggested that even having a phone in your peripheral vision while talking with someone can decrease the level of trust you associate with each other. Wow. Why is a like on a picture from a person far away and probably not your friend, more meaningful to you than the real and breathing person in front of you who can be much more impactful and encouraging to you than a like, if you just listen. Or scrolling through Pinterest at meals or in church or in class? Why are you here? What are you searching for in the phone that you’re not presently getting? Taking away the phone helps you realize how dependent you are on an object that probably contributes much less to your well-being and growth than you think.
Phone Challenge #1: This week’s challenge is to keep your phone out of your hands and out of sight when other people are around. Which means……not taking it out to show someone something on the internet or looking up a restaurant to eat at :).
Yikes. It’s a little strict, but I decided it’s definitely doable for the week at least, and has the potential to be super beneficial!
I hope you decide to do this challenge too! If you do, there are a few questions below that might be helpful to think about. Let us know if you did it, how it went, and any tips you have to complete it!
- What do you spend the most time on while on your phone?
- What do you find to be the most difficult part about using your phone less?
- How have you or something in your life changed since you started using your phone less?
- What are some tips you have to use your phone less?
- If you live outside of the US, what is the cell phone use culture like there?
- How does it play into your daily life?
Good questions to ask yourself:
- Why do I feel like reaching for my phone right now?
- Why am I uncomfortable?
- Why would I rather look something up myself instead of ask someone who knows the answer?
- How many times per day do you think you reach for your phone?
- How many hours per day or per week do you think you’re on it?
After completing the challenge, comment on:
- How difficult it was for you
- What you liked and didn’t like about it
- If/how your actions changed throughout the week
- Any recommendations for other people deciding to do it
- Anything else you want to comment on or share!
- Read about my experience trying this challenge!
>> Watch out for future challenges regarding phones! <<
Have a challenge suggestion or want to get in touch? Contact us here!
 “Cellphone Addiction Is ‘an Increasingly Realistic Possibility,’ Baylor Study of College Students Reveals.” Media Communications ǀ Baylor University. Baylor University, 27 Aug. 2014.
 Rock, David. “Easily Distracted: Why It’s Hard to Focus, and What to Do about it.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 04 Oct. 2009.
 Lin, Helen Lee. “How Your Cell Phone Hurts Your Relationships.” Scientific American. N.p., 4 Sept. 2012.