Deep thoughts, Habits

Am I spending 1/3 of my life on my phone??

I was texting with a friend/co-worker yesterday, and she said something that made me stop in my tracks for a second. It wasn’t anything novel or new, and it wasn’t even totally accurate, but it stuck with me all day and overnight.

We were talking about all the constant negativity online and just how overwhelming it all is. This particular friend does not use social media at all, and I commented something along the lines of, “Well, be glad you aren’t on Facebook… you can’t scroll for more than 2 seconds without seeing people verbally attacking each other and it’s just exhausting”.

She replied, “I just don’t get that- people already spend 1/3 of their lives sleeping. I bet they spend another 1/3 on social media.”

 She continued to say how strange it is to her (again, a non-social media user) that people would spend their precious time on this Earth scrolling around looking at and arguing about other people’s lives, in many cases people they will probably never meet or have any real connection with.

This got me thinking. Is this true??? 

I mean, I KNOW I spend too much time on my phone. In fact, glancing over at my notes here on my desk regarding my year of “intentional living”, in the “Not So Good” column, item #1 is “social media use”.

A couple pics of the boys from last week doing a favorite NON-SCREEN TIME activity. 

Now, I am not personally anti-social media. I actually enjoy it! I think it’s fun, I like seeing what other people I know are up to on Facebook, I enjoy seeing photos of people’s travels, their kids, and I love a good meme. On Instagram, I like having a place to share my messages of gratitude and general postitivity, I like exploring a little bit, meeting new people and seeing how people live in other places, I find cool travel ideas, podcast recommendations, articles or books to read and beautiful photos.

Here is what I do NOT like about social media, and my phone use in general:

-I do not like the “addictive” feeling of it.

-I don’t like the impulsive nature that I often feel regarding my phone, that strange urge to check it throughout the day.

– I don’t like getting up to heat up some tea water and instinctivelyreaching for my phone.

– I don’t like riding in the passenger seat of the car and finding myself scrolling on Facebook, instead of just talking to my husband or looking out the window.

– I don’t like that if we are out to eat and Ivan gets up to go to the bathroom, I will probably pull my phone out of my purse to see if I have any messages.

-I don’t like all of the time I spend staring at my phone when my kids are around!

-I don’t like filling my mind with loads and loads of negative words, images, articles and videos, much of which is not even necessarily true, accurate or worthy of my time.

Things I LIKE about using my phone include:

-listening to podcasts
-taking photos!
-reading blogs I enjoy
-helpful apps, like my Tasks app, Duo Lingo language app, my Forest timer/productivity app, etc
-being able to check and send emails
-text messages (within reason- I sometimes resent the constant nature of them)
-being able to “look stuff up” that I’m curious about

I read an article that said, “the true impact of our screen time isn’t just about how much time we spend on our devices. It’s about how often we use them.” 

I think this is a very true statement, for me anyway. I also think it’s important to realize that for the most part, our phone use is primarily entertainment. We don’t need to be “entertained” constantly throughout the day. 

Even if some of the use “feels” important or useful, like reading a news article or messaging with someone, it’s still generally a form of entertainment, though this can be hard to admit! I wouldn’t be okay spending 4 hours a day playing instant Blackjack on my phone, but for some reason, using social media in excess is seen as just, well, much more socially acceptable. Encouraged, even! 

I personally would like to work on moving back toward more intentional use of my phone. I don’t want to get rid of it, and I don’t feel that I need to suddenly deactivate my social media accounts. But I would like to be more in control of IT instead of the other way around. I don’t want to be bouncing in and out, “making the rounds” on the various apps 100x a day, just because, with no forethought or planning involved as to why I’m even doing that. 

When I look at my Screen Time summary for the week, it’s quite horrifying! I spent hours online this week, between Facebook, Instagram, messages, Safari….and honestly? I probably cannot even tell you 3 things that I saw that I even remember. So what on Earth was the point of those hours then?? 

I find more value, personally, in the more intentional time I spend online- when I consume information that I planned to consume, for a specific amount of time.

 I subscribe to various newsletters and email lists that I read on my desktop computer that I always learn something from. I subscribe to several blogs that I greatly enjoy that enrich my life. I listen to a variety of podcasts that I think are worthwhile. I greatly enjoy texting with my parents, sister and a few friends. 

Randomly opening social media apps while I’m waiting for the pasta water to  boil just ends up making my life feel fragmented. And at the end of the day, so many times it feels like the day just disappeared and I don’t even know where it went. THAT was the whole idea behind my word of the year: INTENTION. I want to know that I was in charge of my hours, my days and my weeks. My life! 

Whew! Wow, I’m sorry- this got super long. I have been making a very intentional effort 😉 to keep these posts shorter so as to not make YOU spend too much time on your phone, reading these posts! 

I will wrap it up here. In closing, in case you are wondering- I did a little research and I don’t think we spend a full 1/3 of our lives on social media. But, research does show that on average, people spend between 3-5 hours per day on their phones. This equals between 12.5% – 21% of our lives staring at a little box in our hands. Yikes. 

I’m off to do something, anything! besides look at my phone today. It’s a beautiful day. Go enjoy it! (But, keep reading my blog. Because it’s a good use of your internet time 😉 )

What do you think? How intentional are you with your phone use these days? 

Daily Gratitude:
I am grateful that Ivan cuts the grass so I don’t have to! Trust me, I do plenty around the house, but I’m grateful that he takes care of cutting the grass and much of the yard work. Since he grew up in Mexico with a very different type of home and no real yard, yard work hasn’t really come naturally to him. He really doesn’t enjoy it. So, I’m grateful to him for doing it anyway! He’s out there right now 🙂 

3 thoughts on “Am I spending 1/3 of my life on my phone??”

  1. hahaha….. you just wrote my post. I feel so guilty about it for the exact same reasons you mention. I want to be intentional, i want to be in control of it instead being controlled by, I want to be present with my kids and model no-addition behaviour. I will start making some changes and hopefully feel more centred. digital detox is good but not feasible in this era when we connect through devises but I think reduce non-essential pick up of the phone would be a good start. I'll re-install an app to track that.


  2. Every year for Lent, I give up social media and it really shows me how instinctual it is to look at FB or IG when I have downtime or feel 'bored.' It takes a good week of being off social media to not have that instinct to look. But those habits come back quickly. I ended up taking another short break from FB this spring because I was getting so worked up over what I saw people posting/sharing about COVID. When I came back, I told myself to unfollow anyone who posted things that bothered me… I've stayed true to that and that has sort of helped. I mostly stay on FB because of the daycare parents group. Otherwise I could see myself being done with FB. IG does not upset me like FB does as it's more-so pics of peoples kids and happy stuff. I do use the screen time limitations on my phone, though. I give myself 1.5 hours/day between texts/whatsapp/FB/IG. Once that 1.5 hours is up, I can only access texts and whatsapp – the FB/IG aps are grayed out and I have to override the block if I want to go on those aps. And I really try not to. I feel like I need things like that to make sure I am not on my phone too much but it's hard because so much of my communication happens over text and whatsapp so it's easy to spent a lot of time on my phone.


  3. When I read your comment, it was like a lightbulb moment! I also use the screen time limitations, but I think it's currently set for like 30 minutes. Totally unrealistic when you consider "social media" on the iphone refers to texts, FB, IG, messenger, etc.. Just with various texts alone throughout the day I can probably get close to that. Obviously I'm usually multitasking, not just sitting for a full 30 minutes texting, but still. I like your idea of setting the limit a little higher, but it actually being attainable. In my case, since I have it set so low, I just end up overriding it almost everyday! What's the sense in that?!? Haha. I may be making an adjustment today.


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