The smartphone detox

In an age where emoticons and other online applications play an important role in social interaction, how dependent are we on smartphones and other gadgets?

As it turns out, not only are we reliant on these devices, but young people are becoming increasingly addicted.

According to a Google survey printed by the Global and Mail, about eight in 10 smartphone users don’t leave home without their mobile devices. Two thirds of participants also stated that they have use their phone every day of the week.

Smartphones have changed the way people communicate. These tech savvy devices make it easier to travel, shop, stay up-to-date with news, work and interact on social media.

It’s not often you will see a young person without a smartphone in hand texting a friend or updating their Facebook or Twitter. Having a smartphone today generally boils down to one thing: convenience.

With all of these services at our finger tips, why would anyone decide to give up their phone for several months?

Hailey Dimitroff, a 21-year-old psychology student at Carleton,  decided to scrap her phone as an experience in her 3rd-year behavioural studies class. Dimitroff’s only means of communication is online.

“I keep in touch with my family through e-mail and Facebook. Sometimes at work I will use their phone to call on my break,” said Dimitroff.

She originally decided to embark on this experiment for a school project and wanted to see how the change would effect her communication and perception of the world.

“It honestly hasn’t felt that different. I use Facebook a lot more now, “ Dimitroff said. “I miss talking to my parents and looking up a map quickly when I’m lost.”

Although Dimitroff’s experience has proven to be surprisingly easy and rewarding, there are endless numbers of young people who would find giving up their phones very difficult.

Nomophobia, a state of anxiety when separated from ones smartphone, effects 65 to 66 per cent of users according to recent studies in Canada and the United Kingdom.

“I can tell you that I’m hooked because as a 20-something growing up in a technology driven age, I’m forced to be,” said 22-year-old University of Ottawa student Karlee Holmes.

Holmes said that she feels her phone has become an extension of herself.

“It can definitely effect relationships. My mom and I fight constantly about it when I’m home on the holidays because I’m attached to it. I need it for everything,” said Holmes.

Although most people use smartphones as their primary means of communication, others like Carlo Mion, 25, think those lines of communication can sometimes be blurred.

“People don’t reply the same as they would in person,” said Moin. “They have time to think of the best possible answers to messages rather than what comes naturally in conversation.”

This is something Dimitroff has to be aware of now that she doesn’t have that safety net so many young people rely on.

“Not having my phone has made me more present in life. I value my friends and family more because I realize I have to take more time to interact with them,” Dimitroff said. “I actually look forward to work a lot more and I’m a more alert driver now.”

For Dimitroff, the world is a different place now. She is more appreciative of little things like walking her dog, is less anxious and days feel a little bit longer at times.

“I find that I compare myself less to others on things like Instagram and am lot happier with what I’m doing. It makes me realize how much value people place on life based on a phone,” said Dimitroff.

“I’m finding that I don’t really miss it as much as I thought I would.”

It seems that in this anxiety ridden and stressful world, some of us could desperately use a smartphone detox.