Do you ever feel like you or your kids spend a little too much time staring at a smartphone screen? Well, members of Gen Z are leading a mini-revolution toward unplugging by looking back to technology from the early 2000s. They are increasingly shunning smart phones for so-called “dumb phones”.
Gen Zers, like Sammy Palazzolo, are in search of a digital detox. In a post on TikTok about the trend she said, “We realized that every single problem we have on a night out. Everything that leads to us crying. Everything that leads us to having a bad hookup. Everything that leads to us having a bad time stems from our phone.”
Smart phones still dominate the mobile phone market, but mobile tech companies are reporting a rise in sales in the US for their most basic models, thanks in large part to Gen Z. Greg Hoplamazia, the academic director of the Emerging Media Program at Loyola University Maryland, sees the move away from smart phones as something users are doing for health reasons.
“Young people themselves are kind of self-censoring and saying ‘I don’t really need the negative mental health and social harms that come with an always-connected life,'” he said.
The flip back to what are called “feature phones” — which are good for just a quick call and basic texting — comes amid a warning from US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. He recently issued a new advisory warning of the mental health effects social media and too much screentime are having on young people.
“We know, for example, that when teens are using more than three hours a day of social media, they’re facing double the risk of depression and anxiety symptoms,” Murthy said.
Young or not as young — experts say people trying to unplug don’t need to take an all or nothing approach. They advise we should all turn off notifications more often. Put the phone on do-not-disturb, especially while sleeping. You can also try changing your screen color to grayscale to make using your phone less exciting.