emily cooney headshot [temporary]

Recently I have been thinking about how I spend the majority of my free time on my phone scrolling aimlessly, usually through TikTok. Every day when I wake up, after class and before I go to sleep. Even though I’m doing nothing wrong, I can't help but think about what I could have accomplished with all the time I spend on my phone.

At the beginning of this year, I actually made a long list of New Year’s resolutions, and the first one was to finish at least three books. I thought I could easily do so because I had started two books — “Midnight Sun” by Stephenie Meyer and “Someday, Someday, Maybe” by Lauren Graham from “Gilmore Girls” — all ready over winter break. Unfortunately, today those same two books have been sitting in my room untouched since the semester started. 

I was really excited to get back into reading, and I especially loved the way it made me feel like I have done something productive with my time. To be honest, I have not read a book for anything other than school since “The Hunger Games” saga was all the rage. But I think we can all agree that finishing a book is an unmatched feeling. 

Like many, I tend to use my phone as an escape from reality, especially amidst the pandemic. However, spending hours on end with my eyes locked to a screen does not leave me feeling too great and can even leave me feeling drained. Plus, you do not really get to choose what you are looking at on apps like TikTok that curate a never-ending stream of content for you. 

I find that these curated timelines can become quite negative, which defeats the purpose of using my phone for a nice mental break. Instead, reading a book you are interested in can allow your mind to truly focus solely on one thing, therefore giving you a true mental break from all the stressors you may be dealing with. 

A 2009 research study even found that 30 minutes of reading lowered blood pressure, heart rate and feelings of psychological distress just as effectively as yoga and humor. Likewise, according to Healthline, more physical and mental benefits that can come from reading books include improving brain connectivity, increasing your vocabulary, empowering you to empathize with others, helping with sleep readiness, reducing stress and more. Suffice to say, reading books comes with an extensive amount of health benefits, many of which are relevant to the average undergrad student.

Additionally, reading actual tangible books not only allows you to feel more connected to the story but also eliminates the temptation to let our short attention spans take over as it does with technology. I can spend hours simply switching between apps and essentially retain no information because there is no need to pay close attention. With books, I am actively reading through each line, through each paragraph and through each chapter without any distractions.

Instead of jumping on my phone every chance I get throughout the day and before I go to sleep, I am going to listen to my urge to grab my dusty books in the corner of my room, and I encourage others to do the same amidst the chaos that is life. Perhaps, we can return to our days of reading for fun and benefit from the multitude of advantages of doing so.

I am a third year studying Communication with a concentration in Media and Spanish. I started writing for Technician this summer of 2020 as a correspondent.