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Smartphone shutdown: Professor challenges students to put phones away for 2 days

A Marquette University professor challenged his students to shut down their smartphones and see how life would be for 48 hours, and what they missed the most may be surprising.

They missed classes. They missed buses. They got lost. A couple of them, including the professor, got parking tickets because they didn’t have the parking app to feed the meter.

“There are no clocks in my house, now that I think about it,” student Daniel Armstrong said.

“I don’t know what I’m going to use for an alarm clock,” Monticello said.

They missed wake-up calls, appointments and other things.

One student got lost driving without GPS, and a few students, just a few, really missed their social media.

“It was not good. I had social media — what’s that called? — withdrawal. Yeah, social media withdrawal,” student Taylor Haddock said.

But many found they enjoyed being disconnected from Instagram, Facebook and the rest.

“They didn’t care what their friends were doing. And in some sense, it sounds like they were doing it out of a sense of obligation,” professor Kurt Gering said.

He said the students gained a better understanding of the role their phones play in their daily routine.

While most of the 20-something crowd found they didn’t need the phone to communicate, 43-year-old husband and father of three Michael Blasius was an exception.

“Your middle schoolers had a phone and you did not?” WISN 12 News reporter Kent Wainscott asked.

“That’s right,” Blasius said.

He relies on his phone for different things than his younger classmates.

“It wasn’t too easy, again, communicating with our middle school-aged children. Coordinating is very difficult without a phone,” Blasius said.

In the end, most of the students discovered what many had suspected — that they were too reliant on their phones — and some were actually glad to get away from them. While others, well, struggled.

One student relied so much on her phone that she missed the chance to reclaim it the moment the experiment ended.

The primary purpose of car phones and flip phones was to allow you to talk to someone, but now, it’s about the apps and that’s what the students missed most: the clock, the calendar and the transportation apps.

The average smartphone user touches their screen more than 2,600 times a day.

Chris Watkins

Social Media & Digital Content Manager

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