If you use your mobile device because you're bored, ask yourself if the social media postings you're reading are actually that interesting to you. If they aren't (I'm guessing they probably aren't that fascinating), consider one of these options.
I get bored during my metro Atlanta commutes, too. I spent a lot of time in Cindy Rae Vaughn, my beloved 10-year-old Honda CR-V. What's helped me pass time without the help of a phone are podcasts. There are about a gazillion (scientific estimate) of them on all things. My favorites are This American Life and The Moth (the story on Milli Vanilli is so, so, so good). I learn something every time I listen. If you haven't listened to Serial yet, what are you waiting for?! (The first season is the best.) My latest obsession was STown. All of these are available for easy download via iTunes. Load up your device, hit play before you hit I-75, and thank me later.
I wish I could sleep anywhere, like this dude
Many of you use your phones to help "calm you down" before bed. Some of you admitted to sleeping much better or falling asleep faster without your phone. Some of you admitted to getting more anxious without the distraction of other people's lives. If you felt greater anxiety without your phone, I'd recommend you do some soul searching. What is it you're trying to avoid thinking about? Are you stressed? Are you worried? Are you completely unsure what you are?
Consider journaling for 30 minutes instead of spending 2 hours on your device before bed. If nothing else, you'll have quite the entertaining reading material in 15 years, when you look back on your college life (I'm so thankful that I journaled during my time in Auburn and even more thankful there was no Facebook back then). And as communication students, the more writing you can do, the better - even if it's free writing full of grammatical errors and non-sensical statements. My early journaling habit led me to a lifetime love of writing. I am convinced that writing so often in a journal as a young child and young adult sparked my interest in writing today. I'll even be happy if you hammer out a long email to a friend telling him/her about your day, and what's going on. Not a Facebook message. An actual email. There's a difference. Hand-write a card to someone. Hand-write a letter. You get the point.
Many of you replaced your 2-hours-before-bed-phone-use with binge watching tv. I'm definitely not here to judge that (although if I could be candid, for this tired mama, binge watching means two 30-minute shows in a row before passing out on my couch). But you realize you're just replacing one digital media with another, right? Consider reading a book instead.
Yeah, yeah, books are technically media too, but hang with me on this one.
I'm horrified when my students tell me they have made it through college without reading a single book. I know your counterargument: I read all the time, just shorter pieces. Reading short articles is great, too - but books are better, and we treat them differently (and learn differently from) long- and short-form works. In fact, some research I've read suggests that if we stop reading long-form (like books), we lose our ability to process information in that way - making it more difficult to read entirely. Scary thought. The Cobb County library has an excellent online book selection, and combined with the Kindle app, you can actually cheat on this rule by using your phone to relax with a book. Making this one small change in my life helped my nighttime routine tremendously. I now always have a book, and I rarely pay for my books now. I also fall asleep way easier without the intrusion of information overload I find on social media. And when I'm waiting at a doctor's office or elsewhere, I can read something interesting as opposed to looking at whatever crap is circulating on Facebook that afternoon. Win/win/win.
If you are still having trouble breaking the addiction, here are a few random helpful tips to reduce the amount of time you're on social media.
Get a trusted friend or family member to change the password for the platform on which you waste the most time, and ask them not to give you that password for the next 21 days. I have no self control, so this is the only way I could break my total Facebook addiction. My husband changed the password on my account and stored it in a safe place, and didn't give it back to me until I had to start doing research for a new publication I'm writing. That was over 30 days ago. I now am *easily* able to limit my Facebook time to about 3 minutes per day, once in the mornings, as a "check-in" of sorts to make sure everything is okay in my friends' worlds. Amazingly, once you get out of the habit of mindless scrolling, you don't want to go back to it. Once my news feed starts pushing people who are not close ties or anxiety-fueled political posts, I log out. It's pretty easy, and I only get the high points of life that way. (I keep up with politics & news on Twitter from a carefully cultivated list of professional news outlets).
Challenge Yourself! (I hope there's a trampoline underneath him...)
Remind yourself that you grow and learn the most when you are uncomfortable. I did a lot of leadership training in my earlier days. And the one lesson I got out of every trust fall or ice breaker or ridiculous goal setting session was this: if we're going to grow, we have to break out of our comfort zones. Cliche, but true. So while at first we may feel totally awkward standing in that horrid Starbucks line in the Social Sciences building with no phone in hand, after a few attempts, you'll feel quite normal about what you're doing and realize you have a few minutes of calm, all to yourself. You are freeing up your head to just think. You might get a brilliant idea for your next paper. You might remember something you needed to pick up from the grocery store. You might strike up a conversation with your future long-term partner. The possibilities are endless, and soon, everyone else will look strange for being so self-centered and focused on their devices.