Going on a Smartphone fast is just what we all need

Going on a Smartphone fast is just what we all need

Do you dare give up your phone for 24 hours?

Would you give up looking at your smartphone for 24 hours straight? The concept was brought to my attention via my latest audiobook purchase, “This working life” by Lisa Leong & Monica Ross. When I listened through the so-called ‘ritual’ that takes place before the shutdown and when the phone becomes reinstated, I daydreamed about my day without the phone. Mind you; this is a complete fast from all electronic devices, apart from your kindle (which I don’t have & compensate with my iPad) So many things ran through my mind, such as

  • How will I check my messages?
  • How can I continue writing on Medium?
  • How will I study for my uni exam?
  • How will I finish off my last uni assignment?
  • How could I live through this period with just books and no google?

As you can see, the list magnifies my obsession with the electronic devices that I own, and there would be plenty more to add to the list — no doubt. But, just as I fast from food for 17–18 hours, I thought that a suitable device cleanse might clear my mental, spiritual and psychological health. An interesting study was conducted by Privat-Dozentin Dr Julia Brailovskaia and her team that wanted to discover just how much better our lives would be with less usage of our smartphones. Not quite as abrupt as Lisa’s method. Two hundred participants were tested by eliminating their smartphones for one whole week, reducing their daily use by one hour or using the smartphone the same way they usually would. The results uncovered that those who reduced their phone use were better off — (The researcher reported in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied from 7 April 2022.) 

So, how much is enough for all of us?

I don’t have to tell you that we all spend too much time looking at our phones, whether googling questions, getting directions or ordering our weekly shopping for delivery. Studies show that smartphone use is linked to less physical activity, obesity, neck pain, impaired performance, and behaviour that might resemble a possessed beast (take kids when separated from their phones!). Researchers compared 619 people into three groups to uncover the results. Two hundred people put their phones away for a whole week. Two hundred sixty-six people reduced the time spent on their device by one hour, while 193 people did nothing! What’s interesting about this study is that researchers wanted to study the behaviour characteristics of these people after the examination. Questions ranged from physical activity performed, cigarettes smoked, how did they feel and if they had symptoms of depression and anxiety, Those who had completely given up their phone and reduced their phone usage for one hour positively affected their lifestyle and overall well-being. Interestingly, those on the one-hour time reduction had a much more sustainable and longer-lasting effect on well-being than those who went cold turkey for a whole week. 

The excellent news about devices

This might make you happy — you don’t have to go cold turkey to benefit! Making these changes for one week left these participants with excellent long-term habits.

  • Those who abstained from using the phone for a week were 38 minutes less phone usage per day than before.
  • Those who only had one hour shaved used their phone 45 minutes less daily.
  • At the same time, all these participants became more physically active, and so did symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Key take away

While it’s a great goal to eliminate your phone for an entire day or even a week — it’s probably not practical with work and when you have a family. I am thankful to have grown up without those devices as a teenager and often wonder how my parents coped with me leaving home for a full day to play with friends — all without a phone. Life was certainly a lot more enjoyable for me, as I spent most of it outdoors, enjoying life, being active and coming home well into the evening. All this without mentioning anything to my family. I can’t even fathom allowing my daughter to do this now — and most parents wouldn’t! So, eliminating one hour, 45 minutes or whatever timeframe is suitable for you will probably be enough. Getting outdoors more often and leaving the phone in your bag will allow you a bit of space and freedom from the constant bombardment of social media and the need to be on and ready 24/7. Exercise, talk with friends face to face or sit in a coffee shop and people-watch. It’s just one hour, and doing nothing but thinking or daydreaming is good for you! Will I take the 24-hour phone fast? Probably not for now, but it’s an aspiration, and perhaps on my next holiday, I might do that after all. Have you shaved off hours of smartphone usage or gone cold turkey for one day or more? What was your experience?

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