In an increasingly connected world, Josielle Soares is going against the grain: She has lived without a mobile phone for almost two years. “It’s important to be connected, but not in such a way that you get lost keeping track of everything,” he explains. The decision came after his previous decision smart phone smash. With no money to buy another one, she chooses a new lifestyle.
Ever since she left her parents’ home and started paying bills with her own salary, Josele, 28, knew it would be crucial to get her expenses under control. “I really wanted to be without a mobile phone, and when it broke, the financial issue was an important point for me,” says, who works in university radio at the Federal University of Uberlandia (UFU). pressure and Stress Working remotely was also crucial. “Schedules really messed up. I had orders at 8pm and couldn’t take advantage of a moment to rest because I was thinking about work,” he says. The way out was to abandon the smartphone.
Even if she already wants to live a less attached life, Josele understands the difficulties of the first moments without her cell phone. “You don’t know exactly what it is, but you feel like you’re missing something,” he says. I continued to catch up on the news on TV and on the computer, but that wasn’t enough to make up for the lack of a smartphone. “Is there something wrong with someone?” he thought.
“This happens because your brain misses what it was before. It misses what led to its addiction,” warns neuroscientist Claudia Vitosa Santana. According to her, there are a series of mechanisms and neurotransmitters involved in the process of cell phone addiction. “That’s why not many can,” he says. Many people have a normal life if they don’t have access to their smartphones, even if they wanted to.”
Filling the mind with activities outside of the digital environment was the answer in Josielle’s case. “I got back into activities that I really loved that I had put aside, like playing the guitar. It was my therapy,” he recalls. “I discovered there is another way we don’t need to have a cell phone for things to work.”
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Since then, Guzel believes she has gained more health. “I think I’ve greatly reduced my anxiety and even the potential for depression by not using my cell phone all the time.” In addition, today she is coping better with the possibility of missing something and feels less likely to feel lonely. “Physical affection is more valuable to me today.”
Although she doesn’t rule out the possibility of owning a smartphone again in the future, Josielle lives off it. “When I say I don’t have a cell phone, people think it’s weird, but because they live with me, they realize I live well like that.”
study he did Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) revealed that there are more smartphones in use in Brazil than people. There are 242 million cell phones Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE)Brazil has a population of 215.1 million. “This is a reflection of the phenomenon of digitization of currency, work and education,” explains Fernando Meirelles, Professor at FGV and Research Coordinator.
This digitization is also seen in the latest data from the National Continuous Sample Household Survey – Information and Communication Technology (Continuous PNAD TIC), which was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2021. The survey shows that the Internet is present in 90% of households in the country and that mobile phones are the main device The main one for accessing the Internet at home, as it is used in 99.5% of households that have access to the Internet.
Josel, who has been living since December 2020 without her smartphone, mentioned that the biggest difficulty occurs when paying bills. This is because, with the increasing adoption of financial transaction apps, going to a bank branch is becoming increasingly rare – in addition to being extremely tedious.
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“Ten years ago it would have been unreasonable to imagine that I would no longer need a wallet and that everything would be on my cell phone,” assesses the FGV professor, who warns of the tendency of the Brazilian consumer to prefer smartphones over other digital devices. Josielle has help from a friend who has a mobile phone and has no intention of giving it away. “If it weren’t for her, I don’t know how I would have done it. We almost have to be in this,” he says.
The role of social networks
Giving up your smartphone doesn’t mean giving up social media. At least that was not the path taken by Bruno Candondo, a student of international relations at the University of Ribeirao Preto (UNAERP). Although he has lived without a smartphone for nine months, he continues to use Instagram and Twitter. But now on the computer. “I once went six days without looking at Instagram and some friends called my house to see if everything was okay or if something had happened to me,” he recalls.
He knows that the task of separating from the smartphone is not an easy task. Andrea Guetta, a psychologist and researcher at the Laboratory of Psychology of Technology, Information and Communication at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP), attributes this difficulty to the work of algorithms. “Anything the algorithms understand is attractive to you, and they’ll throw baits so you won’t put your smartphone away,” Andréa explains.
But Bruno only realized this after spending more than 16 hours using WhatsApp in just one day. “I thought staying online and having fun in groups was my job, so I was worried about getting involved. But it required a huge emotional charge from me,” he says. When his cell phone broke, he saw the situation as an opportunity to review the way the smartphone and social networking were a part of his life. “I realized I don’t have a healthy relationship with the cell phone.”
Neuroscientist Claudia explains, “The trait of addiction is that you will always want more of what you’re addicted to.” She claims this is related to the reward system: When your brain understands a behavior that generates pleasure and well-being, it will work in search of it. However, she cautioned, this research can cause frustration. “If you feel happy with likes, you will need more and more likes to feel satisfied. If you don’t have the necessary number of likes for that, you will get frustrated.”
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Bruno, 24, has already seen improvements in his life since he decided to give up his smartphone. “After my cell phone broke, I managed to fix my LinkedIn and change my job,” he recalls, and he now works as a library assistant at his university. In addition to the new job, the student also notes improvements in his personal relationships. “I enjoy myself most when I’m with my friends and family.”
Sociologist Camilla Cromo sees social media as an important space for social connection. “It’s like a shopping mall,” he epitomizes. “There is a lot of compelling content out there that encourages you to consume.” But she finds that when most social relationships happen in digital environments, this can lead to people getting used to a different rhythm. “In a digital environment, things are faster than in physical environments,” he defends.
Your smartphone doesn’t have to be your enemy.
As classes return, Bruno considers buying a new mobile phone to make it easier to communicate with his teachers and classmates. “As easy as not having to carry my laptop around all the time, I’m going to have to buy a cell phone. But I don’t want someone to take a picture. I want one with a memory stick for college stuff.”
“If these people got to the point of needing to let go of technology, it was because they were struggling and understood that it was better for them to live without it,” explains psychologist Andrea. However, she argues that more important than staying away from smartphones entirely is understanding that they can be detrimental to mental health and, therefore, it is necessary to use them more consciously. “Many activities have moved to smartphones, which is why we advocate for people to be able to control themselves. Humans can do that.”
How to use your smartphone in a healthy and balanced way:
- Know your behaviourThe first step is to know the behaviors that indicate unbalanced smartphone use. Whether it is spending hours on social media or not being able to stay away from it, it is important to identify the problem to look for the solution.
- Turn off notifications: This is one way to reduce the stimuli to use the smartphone all the time and can help control the habit of looking at the mobile phone thinking that you are missing something.
- Try using other devicesUsing a computer, for example, instead of a cell phone can be a very healthy practice. This is because with a computer it is easier to define the time and moments of use.
- Disconnect the device from the device: Start by leaving your cell phone in another room and see how you react to being away from the device. Understanding that your cell phone does not always need to be near you is essential to healthy use.
- Understand that not everything is urgent: the cell phone, because it is so easily accessible, gives the idea that everything is urgent, but it is not always so. Know that not everything needs to be answered right away.
- Limit your use: Determine when to use and not use the smartphone. Avoid, for example, using it during meals. It is also important to set a daily time limit for using the device.
- Look for other alternativesWe often turn to smartphones when we are bored. However, finding other activities for these moments, such as sports and reading, can help.
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New in the world of smart phones
Unlike Josel and Bruno, history teacher Bartolomeo Targeno did the opposite: he bought his first smartphone at the age of 53. “What prompted me to buy it was the separation from my wife and the need to communicate with my 10-year-old son,” he explains. He guarantees that had it not been for the distance between him and his son, he would have been without a mobile phone.
The lack of interest in the device came from not seeing the sense in a lot of connectivity. “I never felt the need for a mobile phone, even during a pandemic. Because at that time I was home with my son and wife,” he says. He claims that, even with the device for six months, he can’t wait until he can return to his separate life. “I’m dying to give up my smartphone.”
The desire to give up the smartphone does not prevent him from enjoying the benefits of technology until he returns to his old way of life. “The best part is you don’t have to go to the bank line and you can do PIX on your cell phone,” he comments.
“I love face-to-face relationships,” he says, who fears the possibilities offered by technology. “Sometimes I ask for help for my nephew, but I don’t care to know where I can go with technology, there’s so much I don’t know.”
“Hardcore beer fanatic. Falls down a lot. Professional coffee fan. Music ninja.”