Hannah Pais

2018-2019 Live Deliberately Essay Contest

Hannah Pais, 16
Honorable Mention, 14-16 Age Group
Burlington, Massachusetts

“Help! My Hand is Glued to My Phone and I Can’t Get it Off!”

When I was a kid, I woke up on Saturdays like this: I would hear birds cawing on the oaks outside. I would sense the sizzling odor of bacon all around. I would feel a rushing yawn escape my mouth. I knew I was happy because it was a brand new day. As a teen in 2019 I now wake up like this on Saturdays: I check my phone and go back to bed and then wake up ten minutes later and check my phone again.

Last year, utter curiosity got to me in respect to how much screen time I spent, so, I got an app on my device indicating the amount of time I spent everyday. The results were shocking. I had spent two hours a day looking on a screen, texting, hashtagging, liking, recording, taking hours out of my life. I did some calculations, and if I continued with my ways until I was 100, I will waste 61,152 hours of my life on my phone, and I had to ask myself, is that worth it?

Most of the teens at the beach, at a concert, or even walking on the side of the road are not looking up and taking in the moments— they are on the phone. A change that I want to see in the world is people spending more of their time actually living, laughing, talking, rather than wasting it on their phone.

Thoreau begged the question of how we can grade the ground we live on. I was getting upset going to lunch with my friends and they would be on their phone nearly the entire time. What world did we live in where emotions were replaced with emojis, texts are more common than conversation, and social media does not even make us social? I decided to grade my ground to help myself and my generation get off their phone and get busy living.

I made a pact to myself to spend less screen time last year. I told myself that I will abstain from using my phone too much, I will be present in the moment, I will enjoy life and experience it rather than recording it. At first, it was absolutely challenging. I felt like an addict and my body needed and craved my phone, but over time, I felt good again. I felt happier, I felt alive.

Now when I see a beautiful sunset or see a good friend after a long time, I no longer whip out my phone to take pictures and Snapchat it, I live in the moments that make me happy. Now that I am not on my phone as much, I now have more time to get work out of the way, to rest, to have time to myself, and it is so great. I want teens like me to realize the amount of time they spend on their phones can really add up. All that time can be spent doing something significant, bit by bit. By not spending time on my phone, I can make the world better by inspiring others around me to spend less time on the screen, and more time actually living and interacting. Sometimes, it is difficult to imagine what the world was like before having cell phones 24/7. Not being able to check the Celtics game score in a flash, Google a random celebrity’s age at random moments, or pretend to text someone when you awkwardly wait in line seems odd, because society has molded themselves to adapt to life with phones all the time.

The most important thing that I try to remember to cut the phone time is when I do get to the age where I start forgetting stuff, and my grandkids are all grown up, I do not want to remember my life staring at a screen, but I would rather want to remember my life that I was actually living, without my phone in my hand.