Phone Addiction: Help

Just how addicted are we to our phones? A new photo series by Eric Pickersgill takes every day images and removes the cell phones present to make our attachment to those little devices frighteningly apparent. In settings ranging from a couple in bed to strangers sitting on a street corner to a family sitting at the kitchen table, the omnipresence of our mobile devices is very clear to see. Seeing those photos gives you one of those striking feelings when you know you’re doing something wrong but being caught actually doing it makes you feel really guilty. If you saw two strangers on a sidewalk both looking at their phones you wouldn’t think twice of it. But put that scene in a black and white filter and remove the phones and suddenly the scene becomes quite eerie.

phone screen

As sad as it may be, we have arrived at a time when staring at your phone is more normal than being an actually present, undistracted human being. Even though we know that we shouldn’t be using our phones while sitting with friends or at dinner with family, the behavior continues and we accept it for what it is. Just last week I was sitting at my Edmonds common room table eating dinner when my roommate sitting across from me asked if I was okay.

Am I okay? What do you mean? And then I realized. I was sitting across from her eating my dinner without a phone or laptop or iPad or anything in front of me. In her mind, I must have been in a really profound state of mind to just be sitting and eating without technology. I suppose it could have been an odd sight but in reality I was just exhausted from the day and was mentally checked out while eating dinner.

As a disclaimer I too am stuck to my phone screen way more often than I’d like to be… but I do try to make an effort to put my phone down when I realize I’m only using it as a social guard. Nowadays it seems like if you’re going to go anywhere in public without a friend, your phone will be your number one companion. Even simple tasks like walking from Stokes to Fulton becomes a runway for you to strut across the quad with a phone in hand. We’ve all been in those uncomfortable situations when you need your phone for comfort; you see someone you don’t want to see, you immediately grab that handy dandy cell phone out of your pocket and start scrolling down that Instagram feed you’re not even really looking at.

But on the other hand, what about when you’re mindlessly scrolling through those Instagram posts (shout out fall foliage gassongrams) and you miss one of your best friends waving at you across the quad? Realistically, none of us have anyone on campus we really need to be hiding from. Yet still we find ourselves succumbing to that automatic instinct to be disengaged and stare at a screen. Instead we could be waving back to that friend trying to get your attention or chatting with the freshman year professor you bumped into, or even just appreciating the beautiful sunset right in front of your eyes.

I know it’s hard to not refresh Insta every 27 seconds or watch every Snapchat story out there but hopefully we can at least try. Being more present in our every day lives, making eye contact, saying hi to people… it all really isn’t that bad and sometimes you actually get something out of it! Who knows, maybe you’ll trip on one less stair a year when you can actually see it in front of you.


  1. I am always amazed when I watch everyone in between class periods. Almost everyone is walking AND on their phones, and almost no one is bumping into each other. I have definitely wiped out a few times, particularly on the stairs like you mentioned, but overall, my texting and walking track record is pretty good. It is sad that this is something we have adapted to. I am embarrassed to say that I even text when crossing a crosswalk and feel anxiety when I am not able to use my phone in class or when it dies. Like you, I am addicted to my phone. If my friends had the chance to see me without my phone or computer in front of me, like your friends, they’d probably ask if I were OK. It is pretty sad that is what our lives have come to. Being present in our lives means that something is wrong. That we aren’t happy. I want to say I will be better at this, but I’m not sure I can walk from Edmonds to Gasson with my head held high, saying hi to people, and enjoying my time walking by myself. This is something I am simply not comfortable with. The saddest part is that I think most people feel the same way we do…

  2. Definitely a good point, and perhaps a necessary one to touch upon. Whether it is meals with a friend, a walk to class, time in the classroom, or time on my own, it seems as if the mobile phone is always by my side. Although this speaks to the digitally connected society we live in, that is what makes me all the more frightened. You look around and think, “well yeah, maybe I am on my phone a lot, but I wouldn’t consider it a problem. Everyone else is doing it. That is just the way of the world.” Such insights are true. Where does this addiction come from? I would say that it stems from the accessibility and connectivity provided by such devices. Accessibility wise, we are able to access our favorite apps and platforms all in one space. From Twitter to the internet, there is always something we could be checking. The continuous and seamless communication provided by our phones allows us to always be connected to one another. Perhaps our addictions stem from our need to be in constant contact with others, rather than from the devices in themselves.

  3. I am way too guilty of just about all of your points. I find myself checking my phone when I am walking to class, waiting in line, standing in the elevator, etc. all just to avoid some otherwise just awkward encounters. It really is so silly to think about because sometimes I don’t even realize that I am doing it. A couple of weeks ago I broke my phone and was completely lost without it. I genuinely didn’t know what to do with myself during these “awkward times” without having my phone to rely on as a comfort zone. My family has a rule of no phones allowed at the dinner table (which I actually really enjoy) and it makes me think I should try and start making some of these rules for myself in my own life. Nice job!

  4. Phone addiction is something that I am in a love-hate relationship with at the moment. First, I hate being on my phone all the time because I know deep down that I am not living in the moment and appreciating all of the beauty that I am surrounded by on this campus, in this city, and on this planet in general. Then on the flipside, I love my phone more than quite a few things, mostly because it enables me to facilitate all of the great things I want to get out of life, whether it’s wanting to try and find a great new restaurant in some hidden corner of Boston through Yelp, or getting a preview of the country I am traveling to through Google Images, I love all of that stuff. But instead, what usually happens with me is that I constantly look down at my phone to that little green icon that pops up telling me I have a message.

  5. This was a great blog post. Your point of us finding comfort with our phones stood out for me. Social media platforms allow us unlimited access to the world of information. We can connect with friends and family, keep updated with current trends and hot-button issues. There are many studies that show that the use of social media is beneficial in that it allows people who may have difficulties to do so in person to express themselves better online. However, your post highlights the fact that many of us now have an addiction to social media. We can’t resist the urge to check our newsfeeds when we have a free moment. Yes, this addiction is real and begs us to consider than dependence on social media impedes our ability to develop interpersonal and social skills. We are all guilty of going out with friends and pausing to check our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds. Perhaps we need to practice taking social media breaks where we make concerted efforts to not engage in social media when we are in the presence of others. Not only is the aforementioned courteous but it also allows us to be emotional present in the now.

  6. Very well put. Phones are like a new human limb. I admit im addicted to my phone. I think society has to start condemning phone addictions. Such photographs such as the one mentioned are great ways to promote putting our phones down and realizing this negative side of society. People need to start monitoring their phones use. In class @jaimiebcmba made a a comment about how when out to dinner her friends put all their phones in the center, and that if one of them picks their phone up they have to buy drinks. I love this idea. It is sad that we have to do this to ensure we don’t use our phones but maybe in time we can all learn to live in the moment.

  7. I find that I have also have trouble removing myself from my phone during the day. Especially when I wake up and before I go to sleep, I always check my Instagram and Snapchat feeds. I definitely think our phone addiction impairs our ability to interact with the people around us. Conversations during meals are becoming less meaningful, and social media is fueling this disconnect. I agree with you that a small percentage of information is actually important and requires us to be glued to out phone. Majority of the information we look at on a daily basis is insignificant and superfluous. I think our generation especially allows technology to negatively impact relationships in our lives. Growing up with technology as an important part of our lives, we view it as a necessity in our day-to-day lives.

  8. Rebecca, I loved reading your post and can definitely relate to everything you said. I too am addicted to my phone, and I love how you referred to it as a social crutch. It is so true that when I see someone that I don’t want to see (i.e. ex-boyfriend on campus – awkward!), I immediately look to my phone and absentmindedly feign to have something important to do. That being said, I agree that you miss out on so much by being constantly glued to your phone. Not only do you miss potential social interactions with friends or professors (or maybe an endearing stranger), but you also miss out on experiencing the little joys in life like the gorgeous fall foliage.

    Also, thank you @kailabc for the shout out! It really is a great way to almost force your friends to be in the moment, and the worst thing that can happen is that you get free drinks! I suggest that everyone in #IS6621 give it a try :)

  9. acoulombe13 · ·

    I clicked on this post because it definitely hit home for me. I definitely think that our phones have moved past the joke of being addictive and have turned into an actual addiction. I’ve seen this photo series and it is extremely powerful. Great, insightful post!

  10. Nice post. It’s actually particularly hard when dealing with your own kids. When you’re around them alot, they really do demand your attention, but they also notice quickly when you lapse and check your phone. I really have to make a conscious effort not to use the phone when they are around. I don’t want them thinking the phone is more important than they are.

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