Off The Grid: What I Learned From My Week Without a Cell Phone


By Molly O’Brien, Contributing Writer

A week without a cell phone is unfathomable to many people. I spent a week without my trusted device, and it was truly eye-opening to see the dependence society has on their handheld technology.

According to the Pew Research Center, 84% of cell phone users claim they could not go a single day without their phone. This statistic seems dramatic, but a week without mine showed that I am much more reliant than I thought. My five most important realizations include:

  • Cell phones are for more than just communicating.

The biggest issue that arose from not having my phone had nothing to do with keeping in touch. In fact, it was timing. Cell phones’ digital clocks replaced watches and alarms, giving us the opportunity to be constantly aware of where the day stands. I tried my hand at using the sun to tell time, but seeing as it gets dark at four o’clock now, this technique became completely useless.

  • There was FOMO of FOMO (AKA- FOMO-ception).

Although it is embarrassing to admit, I feared missing out on fearing the things I was missing out on. I sincerely thought that not knowing what my friends were doing would be life-altering. After this worrying subsided, though, I realized missing out was not that big of a deal. In fact, not knowing what everyone was up to allowed me to feel more content in the things I was doing, whether I stayed in or went out.

  • It is true, everyone is glued to their phone.

Sitting in a classroom three minutes before class, no one speaks. Small talk is basically nonexistent, or as soon as it ends, everyone looks down to their screens. I experienced this in many settings, and I was left feeling uneasy. Face-to-face conversations allow people to connect through physical mannerisms and provide a better understanding of those around them. When only using our phones, the opportunity to share a smile with someone new is lost.

  • Productivity increased.

While scrolling through a news feed can serve as an occasional, much-needed mental break, being away from my phone showed me how much time I was truly wasting on social media. The constant updates and notifications disrupt a person’s focus, even if for only a moment. Minus the dings and buzzes, I could work more efficiently and was left with more time for what was really important: Netflix.

  • Best of all, I slept like a baby.

The blue light emitted by digital screens disrupts your body’s production of melatonin, the chemical responsible for a good night’s sleep. Despite being aware of this danger, I assumed utilizing my phone’s “night shift” option made me impervious to the effects. Wrong. Crawling into bed and immediately closing my eyes made a surprising world of difference. Within minutes, I was asleep, and I stayed asleep throughout the night.

After spending time without a phone, I do plan to make an effort to use it less, focusing on my personal health and relationships. Despite the necessities held within the device, adding some more meaningful conversations and a deeper sleep to my life doesn’t sound too bad to me.  

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