OFFLINE FOR A WEEK
When the reeses and their daughters realised they were addicted* to their phones they took a seven-day screen break. Here's how the daughters got on:
The teenager’s story, Talullah Rees, 15
I was annoyed about this experiment at first: why were we being dragged* into this? I don't think the older generation understands how attached we are to our phones. They are our main way of communicating with our friends and feeling part of the group.
In an average day* I probably use my iPhone for an hour and a half — mainly for music, communicating with friends on Snapchat and Instagram and for looking things up. It's the first thing I look at when I wake up, checking my messages and instantly* starting conversations with people on social media even before I get out of bed.
So, I wasn't looking forward to a whole week without it, but it was surprising. One of the first things I noticed was how much better I slept. Mum doesn't like it but I usually sleep with my phone next to me, and sometimes I fall asleep with it in my hand, which I know is really bad. Conversations can go on until quite late and you don’t want to be the first one to be rude and not reply; once we were “talking" until 5am, then I got up for school at 7am. The conversations go round in your head afterwards, and you're always listening out for more messages, then wondering whether to reply. You feel a pressure to be available* all the time. When I didn't have my phone, my sleep felt so much calmer.
The other big positive was how much more time I had, especially for homework. Usually I have my phone next to me on the desk, and it is difficult to ignore the alerts because you feel an urge* to reply and it does not stop your flow.
I would say I did my homework twice as fast without the distraction* — I did an RE* project in half an hour, which normally would have taken an hour.
I also read a novel, which I haven't done for so long, and it surprised me how much I enjoyed it.
It was quite odd realising how much there is to do in the house. I spent more time with my sisters — dancing, drawing, messing about — and we were never bored. Generally I spent more time than usual away from my bedroom, and one night helped Mum make soup.
It was great to catch up with her, which I know is hot considered cool at my age.
The worst aspect of the week was not having that connection with my friends.
I didn't feel “in” with them as we'd get to school and they would be talking about what happened last night on social media. I definitely felt left out I still love my phone but I've learnt that there’s so much more time in a day when you aren’t consumed by it. I've realised I shouldn’t have it with me every single second, and I should definitely put it away during homework. You can always catch up on conversations oh Instagram later.
The Child's Story, Roxie Rees, 11
I' ve only had a phone since starting
secondary school in September and
now it was being taken away from
me. I'd say I spend about 45 minutes a day on the phone, mainly texting people (I probably send about ten texts an evening) and playing games like 'Subway Surfers'. I'm not allowed on Instagram yet, although all my new friends at school are on it, which is annoying.
There were practical problems for me not having my phone. When hockey was cancelled* I couldn't phone home to get a lift and my friend's phone was out of credit, so it got complicated. I also text my friends each evening to see where we will be meeting each other at school, so of course I missed that too.
But there were good things too.
During the week, I did a lot more reading than I would normally do and I noticed we took our border collie Ziggy for lots more walks — all the family together rather than just Mum or Dad. I found I talked a lot more to my parent and spent more time with my sisters, choreographing dance routines and doing sketches. We set ourselves a task to draw something by the end of the day, which we had to show the other person.
It seemed more peaceful without the phone — you didn't have to remember to keep checking it or to charge* it. I also found it easier to get up in the morning
because I'd had a better night's sleep.
At the end of the experiment I was glad to get it back, but the only text on there was a message to say I'd run out of credit.
From: The Times, Oct. 10, 2015
* to be addicted to - abhängig sein von
* to be dragged into - in etwas hineingezogen werden
* average day - Durchschnittstag
* instantly - sofort
* to be available - zur Verfügung stehen
* feel an urge - einen Zwang fühlen
* distraction - Ablenkung
* RE - religious education
* to be cancelled - abgesagt werden
* to charge - aufladen
1. How does the teenager usually use her phone?
2. How does her behaviour change when she was taken away her phone?
3. What lessons does she draw from the experiment?
4. What does the child learn from abstaining from her phone?
5. What about yourself: Do you look at your smartphone as a blessing or rather a nuisance?