I Tried to Quit My Smartphone Addiction and (Spoiler Alert) Failed Miserably

I need rehab. Actual, real-life, smartphone rehab. Listen, I knew I was addicted to my smartphone before I tried to go smartphone-free for one week, but I didn't know how addicted I was. Now that I know, I'm actually scared for myself and, dare I say, society as a whole.

Shortly after my daughter was born, I actually attempted this digital detox song and dance. Why? I caught myself checking my phone while I was driving my precious cargo in the car. I felt guilty whenever she saw me scrolling during playtime. I found myself taking drastic measures like actually hiding my phone just to stay in the present moment. I started to think that I had a real problem. Turns out that I do.

According to my phone's data, I spend an average of four hours and 23 minutes on my phone per day! It's clear that I need to get clean. So, I decided to take on the difficult, but not impossible, task of turning off all of my cellular data and WiFi dialing. I was determined to use my phone as 1998 intended — make calls, take calls, and maybe store a photo here and there. I want to be clear: this meant no music, no Google Maps, no email, no social media, no apps, nothing for one whole week!

Let me just tell you that this seemingly innocent experiment made with the intention of being more present in those picture-perfect moments (as opposed to ruining them by taking actual pictures) really opened my eyes to the severity of my smartphone addiction.

My name is Jen, and I am a smartphone addict. Here's my (attempted) recovery story.

Day One

Day One

I prepared for my detox with the best intentions. The night before, I turned off all of my cellular data and WiFi calling, and I asked my husband to set his alarm, as opposed to using my phone's alarm. Good, right? I fell asleep giddy, knowing that I was about to break the smartphone hold on my life.

Welp. Hopes and dreams only get you so far.

I woke up and instinctively reached for my phone. I reminded myself, "Jen, you're free now. Enjoy the scenery. Breathe in the fresh air." I lasted about four minutes before I reached for my phone again. "But how will I know the weather?" I thought. "Will I have to watch the actual Weather Channel?" As the day went on, the questions and adjustments continued.

Since I work from home, all of my work is done via my phone or computer (mostly phone). As I attempted to log in to my email on my computer, I realized immediately that I have all of my passwords stored on my phone. I physically could not log in to my computer to do my work. It was a modern-day "the dog ate my homework" excuse, except it was "the smartphone ate my passwords." Frustrated, I attempted to stay "yogi" about it and told myself that what's meant to be will be.

This mindset worked well as long as I was distracted by my daughter. Once she went down for her nap around noon, it's as if I finished a seven-day food cleanse, and I binged on every piece of technology I could find.

I told myself that the first day is always the hardest and that I would do better tomorrow. "Baby steps," I said. Yeah, that's what they all say.

Day Two

Day Two


It was as if I was making up for the four (only four!) hours of lost time from the day before. I didn't even try. I woke up and checked every usual app (weather, email, Instagram) without a second thought. Once we got into the car, my daughter wanted the Moana soundtrack. Well, let me tell you . . . they don't play Moana on the radio, and I was not about to have a screaming toddler. Hi, Spotify on Bluetooth; I've missed you so.

Let's just chalk day two up to poor willpower and #toddlerlife.

Day Three

Day Three

On the eve of day two, I set myself up for a successful day three by turning all of my cellular data and WiFi calling off (again). I told myself that "it's progress, not perfection" and felt ready to begin weening myself off for the remainder of the week.

I started making little agreements with myself:

"Music in the car is OK, but no texting."

"You can take pictures, but no posting."

"Only 30 minutes on Instagram." I even set an alarm!

Well, give someone an inch and they'll take a mile. I'm that someone.

At this point, I decided to fully give up. Especially since the next day was Thanksgiving. How am I not going to post my #grateful photos of my beautiful family in real time?! If it's not on social media, was there even a turkey? People will start to wonder . . .

Day Four

Day Four

Turns out Thanksgiving was the best thing that could have happened to me!

I was so distracted with drinking, cooking, drinking, eating, sleeping, cooking, eating, drinking, and cleaning (in that order) that I actually didn't even know where my phone was. For the most part, I was phone-free for the whole day, minus two exceptions: following online recipes and taking pictures (but I didn't post them!). My husband even got annoyed with me for not chiming in on the group holiday texts. I have to tell you, I took that as a win!

I thought to myself, "OK, day five, I am ready for you."

Day Five

Day Five

Day five was the nail in the coffin.

Turns out Thanksgiving was just a product of equal parts busy, stuffed, and sleepy.

While I had the best intentions to finish the week strong, I taught a yoga class in the morning and needed my phone to play my music. I told myself that I would turn off my phone's cellular data once the class was over, but who was I kidding? I had a problem and I knew it.

I ended the week feeling completely dejected. My life has become so digital that even my day-to-day activities or tasks, questions, and answers require an IP address. I realized that my fantasy of living digital-free might be just that: a "fantasy."

I will say it wasn't a total fail. My average phone usage for the week was down about 40 percent, and isn't the first step admitting you have a problem? Like I said, baby steps.