I Gave Up My Phone for a Week

May 21, 2019


Steve Pineda

Laura Horta stares at the biggest time sucker in her life, her iPhone 8.


So many regrets.

According to a study by Common Sense Media, teenagers use their phones for nine hours a day. They mostly use it to satisfy their needs such as seeing the latest popular trending videos, viewing your friends’ story, or binge watching PewDiePie’s latest Meme Review’s on YouTube.

But “Hey,”you might be saying, “I keep up with the news and use it for necessities.” Look reader I know but I bet that’s only 10% of your usage of your phone. It’s not like we’re enslaved by a small piece of technology. Or are we?

But have you ever thought of not using your phone for our enjoyment or not use it for a whole day? I did, and this is what I learned.

On average, I spend time seven hours and 23 minutes a day, totaling 51 hours and 45 minutes a week on my phone. Here’s a screenshot of my typical day: 

Laura Horta


The top media I use are: Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat which amount to 43 hours, 8 minutes alone each week.

I wasn’t aware how bad I was with the time sucking device.

So I challenged myself to not use the phone for a whole week.

To begin with I deleted all eight social media apps. Here is my screenshot of before and after the app purge:

Laura Horta
A screenshot from Horta’s phone. Make fun of the wallpaper all you want, let’s see you try give up your phone a week, you coward.


The rules are simple: No using social media whatsoever, only use apps when necessary (so no texting your friends/family of the latest gossip and Chromebook, tablet, TV, or any device that has entertainment isn’t allowed.

With almost eight hours to spare the goal was to: Finish homework on the day it’s assigned, read a novel, study for California DMV Driving Test, connect with people, discover a hobby and go to bed earlier.

The only exceptions was music. But music could ONLY be used at the gym. And I recorded my progress for seven days with a notebook.

So here is the fallout of a teenager without a device and what I learned.

Notes from my Notebook, not my Phone

Log Date 4-15-19:

I notice when I wake up in the morning I open up my phone and go straight to social media. I keep turning my phone on and off as if all social apps will reappear.

When I go to the bus stop, I occupy myself with my book I started in January.

Note: Going to the bathroom is now boring. I found out that there are 356 pattern squares on one wall.  

I read a lot of my book that night.

Log Date 4-16-19:

I forgot it’s block schedule week.

The first day without looking at my phone was pretty easy due to me being occupied, and yet, today it got to me. The word “bored” has a whole new meaning when it comes to this challenge.  

Two days in and I have failed. Although I was trying to convince myself YouTube doesn’t count as social media, it still is a form of entertainment. I download the app and spend an hour bumping up my screen time twice as much as yesterday.

I’m glad I didn’t try to hide from my family by using my phone”

— Laura Horta

I later go to the gym and thank the stars I can listen to Spotify.

Log Date 4-17-19:

Today I accomplished some things from my to do list. I spend time on my phone studying the California DMV practice tests. I also read a few pages of my 525 page book.

Other than that, I sleep for three hours because I am bored and tired.

I do homework without my music, but I am able to listen to the tunes of my neighbor’s jazz band. I’m pretty sure the lead singer convinced himself he’s a great singer for the whole neighborhood, but he needs a few singing lessons.

I find time to practice for the DMV test on my phone.

And I read my book again.

Log Date 4-18-19:

I honestly do think that our phones limit communication. I learned that my economics teacher, Mr. Arredondo is a huge geek and we have a long conversation about old TV shows and Marvel movies.

Usually, when I get home I serve myself lunch and go straight to my phone and watch YouTube. Ever since deleting the app, I’ve started eat lunch with my mom. In all honesty, I haven’t had a conversation with her in a long time. I also get to bond with my dad more and we speak about a variety of things. Memories are made today.

I use my phone to complete homework.

And practice for DMV test.

Log Date 4-19-19:

Five days in and it’s an endless loop of suffering. When will it end? I didn’t know how desperate I was to use my phone until I took notice of how many times I keep turning my phone on and off.

Knowing that Friday is going to be boring, I decide to go to an AP Literature field trip of to see a “Othello.” The field trip is boring, but when you don’t have a device, everything seems interesting.

The play was surprisingly good, and I was able to experience a professional play for the first time. It was a pretty fun day, I ate pizza with field trip people and get to know my friends better.

Log Date 4-20-19:

I went to a baby shower today and it was pretty great. There were adults and kids at the party. I surprisingly converse with people, which I rarely even do. Instead of sitting and staring at the table, I had a conversation with two of my younger cousins about Harry Potter for 20 minutes straight.

Log Date 4-21-19:

Today is Easter. I’m glad I didn’t try to hide from my family by using my phone. Instead I spent time with them and share stories. 

I download YouTube because my family makes me the DJ for Easter, popping out entertainment for screen time.

Finally, I have quality time with my family and spend time with my little sister just playing and hanging out with her.


I Survived and so can You

A screenshot of the reporter's phone a week after Laura Horta started the challenge.

Laura Horta

A screenshot of the reporter's phone a week after Laura Horta started the challenge.

I finished the challenge. Seven days with no social media and it was rough, but you get used to it.

I accomplished all the things I said I would do. I read my novel from pages 136-262, practiced for my driving test, wrote small stories whenever I had free time, and of course, connected with people. Although I wrote down I would accomplish all my assignments that are given that day and sleep early, sometimes the assignments were too lengthy and kept me up till 11 p.m. Fail on that part, but overall completely passed the challenge.

My screen time decreased immensely. I went from seven hours and 23 minutes per day to an hour and 46 minutes per day. I seriously didn’t know I had that capability.

When I finally had all my social apps back on my phone, I started to notice how dumb it is to use them. Watching videos and keeping up with memes aren’t important.  I felt more present without the phone and ever since I got my phone back I’m constantly confused with everything that is going on in the news and on social media. But that same week my screen time bumped up to four hours and 21 minutes per day.

S what can you and I take from this learning journey? Live in the moment and decrease watch time on the phone. In the end, what’s on the internet will stick around forever; you won’t.

It does change things for the better. It’s healthy to ignore your phone. Don’t believe me? Do this challenge, because I for one would do it all over again.

Inspired by Yes Theory Video “Deleting Social Media for 30 Days Changed My Life.” 



10 Responses to “I Gave Up My Phone for a Week”

  1. Jennifer Renteria on May 24th, 2019 10:34 am

    When I had my phone, I noticed how much I used it. It was an interminable cycle every day and I used it as a pretext to not start my homework after school. I think Laura made an eminent decision in her life because of the cessation of the usage of her phone. This article was helpful in promulgating the excessive usage of the phone. We, as students, inadvertently use our phones for hours each day and it has come to an unhealthy obsession.

  2. Daisy Roman on May 24th, 2019 11:46 am

    I believe this challenge Laura accomplished is very important because it helps people realize life outside of a screen. Certain people are loathed to complete it since they are addicted to being on their cellular device. It is a virulent object that can cause others to feel bad about themselves or just bring them down in general. Although it can be venomous, it is a good way to get closer with friends and family. Not using any media or entertainment lets people get out of their comfort zone and actually communicate with others.

  3. Jovanna Gazano on May 24th, 2019 1:41 pm

    My mother and family always scoff at me for spending too much time on my phone so I can construe that this challenge might be difficult. The fact that you are bored and your phone is right in front of you and tangible is what makes us use it so much. Our phone is also very useful because we can use it for entertainment when we need to elicit information for a project or homework etc. In my opinion, it will be more feasible to spend less time on our phone on the daily if we try this challenge. Spending too much time on our phone is bad for so many reasons and one of them being we are not cognizant of what is going on around us like with our parents or friends.

  4. Arlet Hernandez on May 26th, 2019 11:08 pm

    As I finished reading this article by Laura, it really opened my eyes to how much an individual is on their phone. Even though it was evident to me that Laura has a much more difficult time being without her phone, to me it is easier. I for one had already perceived the interminable damage my phone can cause, due to this, I limited myself to only using my phone either 5 hours or less as well. My parents were actually the first ones to tell me my problem with my phone usage so it made me vigilant and decided to do something about it. My story is not like Laura but I understand and totally get her about her not feeling the same. Just like Laura did, I cajole you, the reader, to also give up your phone. If you think you can.

  5. Jacqueline Pichardo on May 27th, 2019 10:00 pm

    Once I finished reading about Laura Horta’s journey I was astonished, knowing I wouldn’t be able to tolerate being without my phone for more than 2 days straight. I discern that constantly using my phone is an extremely pernicious cycle that eventually leads to the lack of communication. Horta’s experience really cajoled me into taking an initiative for myself and restrain myself from using my phone as much as I usually do. It is amazing that through her experiment she transmitted that we should not give a device the ability to wrest so much of our time from our lives. I am glad Horta shared her experience since it has now motivated me to become more vigilant of my screen time and spend more quality time with actual people instead of a screen.

  6. Daniel Gonzalez on May 27th, 2019 11:53 pm

    Laura is obviously a very astute person to notice the problem that she has. Many people don’t have the will to admit the blatant problem that they have. Many people will try to do this challenge and will eventually succumb to the temptation of social media. Doing it by yourself can be ineffectual so it is better to solicit the help of your friends. They can call you out whenever you are on your phone. On average, I use my phone two hours per day. I am an advocate for spending less time on your phone and more time interacting with your friends and family.

  7. Susana on September 23rd, 2019 9:58 pm

    Doing this challenge shows how capable you can be of doing anything without your phone. Most times when we are on our phone we tend to not look at every nuance around us. There are many fun activities we can do to while being ‘bored’, but instead we like to use our phone. We can all be very adroit toward something and we don’t even know. For example, Laura read. She did something worth her time, not only that, but she was being productive of her time when she was free, she studied for her DMV test. This is a challenge that most of us should do.

  8. Nayli A Jijon on September 24th, 2019 8:58 pm

    Laura makes a good point on how our phones have created a problem with us and our daily life. I personally have tried to spend less time on my phone but eventually, I would succumb into the temptation and use it. I would often FABRICATE excuses onto why I should use my phone and I’d end up staying up late because of it. Now, these days ever since I got busy with my after school class, I’ve been more of an AVID learner and have stopped my HAPLESS procrastination. although there still is a TINGE of entertainment things I use my phone for, especially when I just need a break from school for a while before I continue with all my work.

  9. Melissa Marquez on September 24th, 2019 11:20 pm

    This article made me more aware of how addictive technology can be. Being on social media voraciously does keep you entertained but keeps you from socializing with your family. It saddened me that I could relate to this statement. Laura explains how she started talking to her family members more because she cannot use her phone. Instead of just using my phone at parties, I am now motivated to start talking to my cousins more and learn more about them. In addition, I applaud Laura for being able to stop herself from using her phone and entertaining herself with different ways for a week. Constantly using our phones is not healthy and everyone should try to refrain from using their phone all day.

  10. Teresita C on September 24th, 2019 11:44 pm

    After reading this article, I feel VIGILANT about how much time we spend on our phones each week. I for one had already PERCEIVED the damage my phone can cause due to my lifestyle. I also began to limit myself to using my phone less overall because it was affecting me negatively. I understand laura when she talks about her not feeling the same without her phone. In my opinion, I think that we should all try this or at least try to limit yourselves on the overall time that we use our phones.

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