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Beyond the Newsfeed: A Guide to Making the Most of Your Phone Time

This week, I was minding my own business scrolling through my newsfeed, when I saw an article that said that college women spend an average 10 hours a day on their phones. This was absolutely crazy to me, so this is how I use my phone time, make the time I spend with it work for me, and what I’m doing to prevent cell-phone addiction (which is a real thing).

The Study

The 2014 study, out of Baylor University, surveyed 164 college students on their cell phone use across 24 categories to identify the ones most associated with cell-phone addiction. They found that most cellphone use is driven by a desire to connect socially, and that users that spent most of their phone time on social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc) were more likely to be addicted. They found that men and women used their phones differently, and had different markers of addiction. For example, Facebook use was indicative of addiction for men, while it did not correlate with addiction for women.

My Cell Phone Use

Reading that college women use their phones an average of 10 hours a day (men use theirs an average of 8 hours a day), was baffling to me because I don’t have 10 hours of my day to waste. What I wouldn’t give to have that many hours to do anything, and here, I’ve been on my phone when I could’ve been sleeping. So I took a closer look at my phone use over a period of a day.

I wake up (because the alarm on my phone went off) and check my phone, which usually has a few emails (shoutout to The Skimm for throwing everything I need to know about what is happening in the world in my inbox when I wake up), Facebook notifications, and maybe a message or two (10 min). I check the weather, and head out for my run. I use my phone to track distance and listen to music or a podcast (1-2 Hours). After I run, I usually listen to music while I get ready for the day and make breakfast (45 min). I use it to check for the bus, and then I read emails and jump on my social media on my way to school (15 min).

I listen to music until class starts (20 min), and then I usually have my phone on my desk or in my lap in case I get messages or important emails (or the professor writes something worth Snapchatting on the board). Between classes, I usually use my phone to check social media and text friends to meet for lunch (or in the library, if it’s one of those days) (20 min). I also generally call home everyday (20 min). While I’m in the library, I have my phone near me and check social media or jump on YouTube between blocks of study time (45 min). I generally use my computer instead of my phone for messaging, writing emails, and listening to music during study time. On my way back from campus, I listen to music while scrolling through my newsfeed or I watch videos on YouTube (20 min).

It’s generally pretty late by the time I get home, so I’ll plug my phone into the charger and watch an episode of something on Netflix on my computer before going to sleep.

This is a total of 285 minutes (4 hours and 45 minutes) per day. I was mildly proud of myself until I read that users tend to underestimate their phone time by 40%, which would put me much closer to the average found in the Baylor study.

Making Your Phone Time Work for You

The one redeeming quality of my phone time is that much of it is time is listening to music while doing something else. I bring my phone while running, or listen to music while commuting.

According to the study, the amount of socially motivated cell phone time is positively correlated with addiction. To combat this, I try to do lots of different things during my phone time. On my commute, I do everything from reading and responding to email, to doing some last minute SparkNotesing of the readings for class. Some days (like today), I even do some last minute edits on the blog post.

I also try to use my computer as often as possible for messaging and emailing. I find it easier to respond to people (whether its Facebook Messenger, iMessage, or Slack) when I have the whole computer rather than on my phone. This makes the time on my phone mostly for entertainment.

Since I have two Instagram accounts (one for the blog,, and my personal one), scrolling through my newsfeeds is a less socially driven activity. The accounts I follow on the blog’s Instagram mostly serve to give me ideas for blog posts, and they update more often than my friends on my personal account.

My phone comes with me everywhere I go, and I don’t think I could live without it because I rely on it to make the most of my downtime. Even though it can be a huge distracting influence, mine keeps me up to date and connected to the world in a way that yields higher productivity in the long run (and I’d bet that most college women are making their phones work for them during those 10 hours a day too).

How do you use your phone? Do you study with it? Are there any apps I should check out? Tell me about them in the comments!

Xoxo, Rosana

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