Aly's Angle on Cell Phone Addiction


Aly VislockyAly’s Angle on Cell Phone Addiction  I have an addiction to my cell phone. I admit it. The thought of sleeping without my cellphone charging right beside my head produces an unhealthy anxiety. I pretend that I worry about the possibility of someone trying to get hold of me in an emergency, but the reality is that I just like having the phone there. It is like my childhood teddy bear; it brings comfort to me.

More pathetic is the joy or disappointment I feel when I check my phone and receive a satisfying or limited amount of text messages or Facebook likes. If I go a couple of hours without a phone call or text message on the weekend, I think to myself, “Why don’t I have friends who love me?”

I have admitted my smartphone addiction, but I won’t disclose it to the middle school, high school and college students I coach in the sport of lacrosse. When I get 15 “likes” on a Facebook post, I feel a weird sense of satisfaction. That is child’s play to the younger generation. No joke. I heard one of my seniors talk to a freshman about a picture she posted on Instagram that got 250 “likes” in an hour. She added, “That’s a lot of my generation, but to you younger kids, that’s nothing.” Let’s rewind: That means within two hours, more than 250 friends were on their cell phones, looking at Instagram and choosing to like the picture. It blows my mind, how much time we all waste looking at that tiny phone screen.

At a team dinner with my high school team after a daylong tournament, I looked around the table at the restaurant and EVERY SINGLE girl on the team was silently looking down at her phone. Imagine that: 18 girls sitting around a table, each with a phone in her hand, interacting not with each other, but with the cyber world.

I forced a phone time-out. I collected all the girls’ phones and placed them in a pile on the table. 19 iPhones, including my own, sitting there, staring at us. When one of them buzzed with a text message, everyone wondered whether it was hers. It was like taking away an addict’s drug of choice. After about five minutes without their phones, they forgot it was sitting there--until they wanted to show someone a picture, recite a text message or Google something. It was hard for them. When I handed back their phones 45 minutes later, their sense of self-worth hinged on how many text messages they got within that time. It was a social experiment, and it blew my mind.


Now I do phone time-outs regularly. When I go to church, I don’t bring my phone. When I go grocery shopping, I leave it in the car. I turn off the vibration and sound, so I do not get reminded to check it as much. I am trying--and I challenge you to try, too. It is liberating not to be in contact all the time. It is nice to be off the radar of the rest of the world and be present in the moment.