In her article, Olivia Bancel writes about the continuous struggles she faces with her phone and how she decided to turn her phone into a more positive place during quarantine. Olivia gives advice on removing certain apps and focusing on the ones that bring her joy with the hope of inspiring others to try and do the same.
I’ve never had a good relationship with my phone. Growing up, I felt like I was the only kid who didn’t find the need in getting one. While my friends begged their parents for a phone every Christmas and birthday, I would beg my parents to not get me a phone. However, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t delay getting a phone forever and there came an age when I needed to get one. When the small and shiny device was finally placed into my hands, it immediately felt so wrong to me. I began to notice how going on my phone had the power of altering my mood and making me feel worse about myself. If it was by seeing a post that made me feel insecure or hearing about people hanging out without me, it only took one second for my time on my phone to turn into something negative. At first, I would only notice this happening every once in a while but soon enough, it became something regular; almost every time I would get off of my phone, I would feel worse than before I had gone on it.
Through the boredom that I was experiencing during the height of the pandemic when we were all in quarantine, I noticed my screen time skyrocket. Feeling like there was nothing more productive to do with my time, I would spend the majority of my day on my phone. Whether I was scrolling through social media or facetiming my friends for hours at a time, I was spending too much time on my phone and I knew that. The negative feelings I had always associated with being on my phone only grew; causing me to feel anxious, upset and unproductive. I couldn’t understand why my phone had become such a bad place for me and how through it all, I felt the constant need to come back to it.
With a lot of thought, I decided what I needed to do was turn my phone into a happy place. I felt it was important for me to feel good about my phone in the moments I had to use it. I wanted the apps I use everyday to bring me joy rather than stress in the ways most of them had done in the past.
I started by deleting some of the apps off my phone. Never having had too many to begin with, this process didn’t take me too long. However, while looking through my different folders, I began to realize how many I never used or used too much. Throughout the process, I kept asking myself “Is it bringing me joy?” and if my answer was “no” I deleted the app off of my phone. Having less apps on my phone meant having less distractions. With fewer apps along my bright screen, I was able to focus on the ones that I had kept and brought me joy.
Next, I focused on finding apps that would turn my phone into a happy place for me. Being Catholic, and having my faith be a big part of my life, one of these apps for me was the Bible app. With the help of the Bible app, I am able to get notifications for “the verse of the day” rather than how many people had liked my photo on Instagram. The Bible app has been a great way of starting my day with joy, rather than the stress social media would always bring into my life.
Another app I wanted to use more was the audiobook app. I love to read so much but with the constant stress of the school year, I can barely find any time to read the books I love. With the audiobook app, I’ve allowed myself to carve out the time I might normally spend on social media and use it to listen to some of my favorite books or the ones I’ve always wanted to read. I’ve found that it’s great to listen to when going on a walk or getting ready for bed.
The last app that I decided to dedicate more time to is the One Second Everyday app. This app is a fun way to collect memories throughout each day in the form of a one second clip and the app merges them all together. I got this app the summer before going into my freshman year of high school and now my video is over fourteen minutes long! This app has been so fun for me in so many ways but only recently has it become a way to push me to do something new and exciting every day. During quarantine, all my one second clips were almost identical to one another, so the app started to force me to do more with my time. Because of my One Second Everyday, I’ve pushed myself to do small adventures like going on a long walk and finding a new part of town or cooking a new recipe. The app has been a great way for me to look back on all the memories I’ve made over the years and push myself to try something new everyday.
As for social media, I still have difficulty finding happiness through those apps which will sometimes cause me to delete them for periods at a time because of how much it affects my mood. Although, when I do have social media on my phone, I’ve tried making it a happier place too. Instead of following a lot of people I don’t know that well, I’ve made sure to follow the people and things that make me happy and that will make going on social media a better and more positive experience for me. Now, I’ll spend my time on social media looking at videos of dogs and listening to my favorite comedians rather than getting consumed in how fake it all feels to me.
Overall, I know I’m happier when I’m not on my phone, but with time, I’ve been able to turn my phone into a happier place that helps me have a more enjoyable experience.
About the Author: Olivia Bancel
After a three month experience without her phone, Olivia Bancel was able to see how amazing life was when there were no distractions. With the hope of helping others use their phone less, Olivia is a monthly blog writer who writes about her experiences and tips for going on her phone less.