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Could You Go 15 Minutes without Your Phone?

Some intrepid students took our challenge—take a look at just how hard it is


Americans are spending more time on their phones than ever before—over four hours a day by some accounts. They run our lives, showing us where to go, what to buy, who to “friend,” and more. We wake up to their alarms and turn them off just before we doze off.

But what if you had to part with your phone, even for just 15 minutes? It may sound easy. But our recent informal social experiment required nearly a dozen willing students to sit in a room with their phones nearby, but untouchable for a quarter of an hour. As our video attests, the results are pretty funny. One participant likened it to waiting for the dentist.

Try it. It’s harder than it looks.

Bill Politis can be reached at bpolitis@bu.edu.


3 Comments on Could You Go 15 Minutes without Your Phone?

  • BU Alum on 11.12.2018 at 7:10 am

    This is a poorly executed experiment. Very rarely do we need to sit in silence like this. Yes I can leave my phone for 15+ min and I’m usually doing something. I don’t touch my phone while eating or at a concert or a hockey game. Will I use my phone while just sitting in silence? Yes because there’s no need to be sitting and bored when I can message friends from college I haven’t seen in months or read a book. Do you know how much time people spend reading books on their phones? A lot because it’s easier to carry just your phone around than a book or a separate reading device like a Kindle. The whole idea of millennials and gen Z can’t leave their phones alone and that it’s bad is ridiculous. Before people ignored each other to look at their phones they ignored each other to listen to music or to read the paper. Let young people use their devices and don’t laugh at their inability to leave their phone for 15 min when you put them in a solitary room with nothing to do but sit.

  • Ray Joyce on 11.12.2018 at 7:39 am

    If there is any follow up with theses students you might want to share Manoush Zomorodi’s TED talk “How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas”.


  • Current Student on 11.12.2018 at 2:59 pm

    This wasn’t super enjoyable to watch, but it didn’t seem to slam gen z’s use of their phones, just point it out. Phones are useful technology, and this informal (key word) experiment doesn’t disagree with that.

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