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Op-Ed: Charging your own battery

Photo credit: Gabby Kaplan
Freshmen Phoebe Gustafson and Lena Sakhnini look at their phones during lunch. Teens often find it hard to live without their phones on a daily basis. According to a Pew Research study, “About three-quarters of teens (77%) say they use YouTube daily, while a smaller majority of teens (58%) say the same about TikTok.”

Would you be able to hand your phone in for seven weeks? You’d be left with no clock, no calendar, no camera and no Spotify. These are the things I have to sacrifice when I go to sleepaway camp in Maine for the summer. In late June, I fly across the country to Boston, drive three hours to Freyburg and immediately turn in my phone until early August. 

Most teens would balk at the idea of giving up their phones for so long, but I actually look forward to it. As much as I love using my phone, a break from it, whether long or short, is a great way to decompress and make connections without a technology barrier.

Teens worldwide rely on their phones daily for everything from checking the time to texting their best friends. However, they most commonly use them for — you guessed it — social media. According to a 2024 study by The Pew Research Center, “Today, nearly all U.S. teens say they use the internet every day (96%). And the share of teens who report being online “almost constantly” has roughly doubled since 2014-2015 (24% vs. 46%).”

This alarming fact could be due to the increase in technology use during and after the pandemic, which made connecting online seemingly more important than in-person conversation. I’ve discovered from going to a phone-free camp that stepping back from your screen every once in a while can open your eyes to what you have been missing; a whole new side of you and the people you spend time with.

Archer’s Tech-Free Fridays were difficult for many students to adjust to life without technology; however, it also sparked self-awareness of their screen dependency. During the summer, when I have no one to text about school projects and therefore no general need for my phone, I find it easy to give it away. This is because, often, students rely on their phones to stay on top of academic life, according to an article by the Center for Digital Education.

By shifting your technology habits, you can also shift your emotions. Separating the phone from the person leads to higher self-esteem and increased emotional well-being, as claimed by the American Physiological Association. I don’t even have social media, yet I still face the pressure of staying updated on new trends, new music and so on. I never realized the pressure was there until I spent seven weeks independent from it and its tools that glued me to the screen.

Interestingly, there has been a larger increase in the use of handheld technology for girls than for boys. The Pew Research Center explains, “Half of teen girls who have access to a cellphone (54%) say they often or sometimes use their mobile device to avoid social interaction, while 31% of teen boys report doing the same”.

From personal experience, girls regularly need to be on their devices more than boys because, as stereotypical as it sounds, girls like to talk on the phone more. You are much more likely to find a girl on Facetime for an hour than to find a boy on Facetime at all.

Girls’ use of social media specifically has become problematic. Another study by The National Library of Medicine explains that “social media and digital technology usage has quickly emerged as a leading candidate to explain the sudden jump in depression and related problems among girls.”

Scrolling for hours on end and continuously seeing glorified posts is how they often spend their time — and they may not even realize it. Creating a balance between time on and off screens withdraws constant media standards and helps them practice self-love.

One way I have created this balance is by, on the weekends, charging my phone in another room before dinner and leaving it until the next morning. This way, I reserve time to spend with my family in the evening and get a chance to charge my own battery!

At first, it’s tough to give your phone away, but once you do, you realize that even if you don’t have access to your apps or are constantly posting the “right” things, you can still fit in with people. I’m not trying to say devices are awful. I’m also not trying to say you need to get rid of your phone. I am trying to tell you that despite what teens may believe, periodic breaks from your technology can lead to a more authentic, happier version of you.

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About the Contributor
Gabby Kaplan, Staff Reporter
Gabby Kaplan joined the Oracle as a Staff Reporter in 2023. She enjoys horseback riding, spending time with her friends, and cooking.

Comments (2)

As part of Archer’s active and engaged community, the Editorial Board welcomes reader comments and debate and encourages community members to take ownership of their opinions by using their names when commenting. However, in order to ensure a diverse range of opinions, the editorial board does allow anonymous comments on articles as long as the perspective cannot be obtained elsewhere, and they are respectful and relevant. We do require a valid, verified email address, which will not be displayed, but will be used to confirm your comments. Because we are a 6-12 school, the Editorial Board reserves the right to omit profanity and content that we deem inappropriate for our audience. We do not publish comments that serve primarily as an advertisement or to promote a specific product. Comments are moderated and may be edited in accordance with the Oracle’s profanity policy, but the Editorial Board will not change the intent or message of comments. They will appear once approved.
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  • C

    Charlotte BurnapMar 7, 2024 at 2:41 pm

    Yess Gabby!! Love this op-ed, especially the title! Killing it as per usual ❤️

  • N

    NanaMar 5, 2024 at 10:38 am

    Very well written and informative. Loved this article and her grandfather (Buddy) would be so proud.❤️❣️