Phone Diary: Liz K

Over the course of 48 hours, I recorded in a tiny green notebook every time I used my iPhone. This included for how long I used my phone, what activity on my phone I performed, and what activity I interrupted.

Writing everything down was definitely tedious, so much so that at times I made a conscious effort to not pick up my phone. However the question of “how much of my day do I spend on my phone?” had crossed my mind before, and this activity helped me to answer that question. I am not ashamed of my phone usage, for it helps me connect with others and organize my day. I did learn, though, that I will focus on getting homework done faster if I don’t have my phone out to distract me.

Below is the quantitative information I collected:

How many times I used my phone: 78

Total hours and minutes on my phone: 3 hours 55 minutes

Total textual interactivities: 33

Alarm: 4

Calculator: 1

Calendar: 1

Camera: 1

Check time: 12

Notes: 10

Shuttle: 1

Weather: 3

Total social interactivities: 2

Phone call: 2

Total textual and social interactivities: 42

Contacts: 1

Email: 2

Texting: 19

Instagram: 4

Snapchat: 6

Twitter: 8

Voice memos: 2

Activities interrupted:

Class: 2

Computer: 5

Free time: 7

Getting ready for the day: 2

Hanging out with friends: 3

Homework: 21

Meals: 5

Waking up/going to sleep: 9

Walking: 12

Waiting: 9

Watching TV: 1

Working: 2

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Having a small green notebook and a bold pen was helpful to keep track of my phone use. The two items were easy to hold on to next to my phone, and my lists were neatly organized. I did not feel restricted by the items, for they served their purpose effectively. As technologies, they made my information tracking easy. It was strange, however, to be summarizing digital activities in writing. I am usually used to writing my ideas on paper, in a limitless space, then narrow ideas on a digital platform. Digitally, I find that I feel restricted, so I abbreviate things more than I would on a non-digital platform: my texts and emails are consciously made shorter, my to do list is compact, and my dialogue on social medias like Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram are brief. At points I felt I was not able to shorten my observations accurately in my notebook, something I had infrequently experienced. To observe and summarize my digital activity and summarize it in a way I am used to expanding with was an uncomfortable change for me.

As I mentioned earlier, using a notebook and pen to record the use of my phone was tedious. I use my phone often during the day, much of which is spent on small tasks: I set my alarm to wake me up in the morning, I keep track of my daily to do list in my notes app, and I use my home screen to check the time. These tasks take between one second and one minute to complete (conveniently on a device always by my side), which is less time than recording my activity in my notebook. It is not necessary that I keep a digital to do list or check the time solely on my phone. To avoid the task of writing in my notebook, I made a conscious effort at time to check a wall clock for the time and write down things on my to do list physically on paper. I also tried to check Twitter and my email on my computer rather than my phone, for my computer is another technology I can conveniently use for those tasks. Such a change in my habits did not alter the course of my day drastically. This proves that my phone comes in handy for simple tasks, but is not required for some daily tasks.


Keeping in mind such small daily tasks, I have learned that my relationship with my phone aids me in keeping organized in my life. This organization is important to me because all I need is on the device I keep on me almost at all times. If I need to reschedule something in my calendar, I can right on my phone. If I need to figure out a calculation, I can do that right on my phone, too. These tasks can also be done elsewhere, but my phone provides me these technologies to complete them in one place. This hub for apps I always have the potential to use on a daily basis is why I have become so reliant in my phone. It is convenient for me to have one device to aid me in most of my daily activities, so really, why bother carrying around an extra planner and mini calculator?

My phone also has apps I do not use frequently myself, but have come in handy, anyway. This semester I am enrolled in a journalism class, and it is required that I record interviews for articles I write. The voice memos app is one that I have begun to use frequently to record conversations for my journalism writing. My phone proves to be ultimately convenient yet again. There was no need for me to invest extra money in a separate recording device, for I already was equipped with one on my phone.

I find the main reasons I use my smart phone to be justified. Of course I use my phone for the most basic ideas of communication, including phone calls, text messaging, and emailing. I also use my phone to act as a curator and contributor in participatory culture. On Twitter, I have been using my phone as a medium to interact with others by commenting on content, sharing content, and Tweeting my own content. However, on other social media apps like Instagram, I tend to lean more towards the curator role: I will follow other people, like others’ pictures, however I rarely post my own or directly communicate with other users. My interaction with these technologies shows that my digital literacy can certainly be improved and utilized more often. I have much room to create and spread content over multiple platforms to share with others as well as communicate more with others in the same space. This could be possible by using the same amount of effort I put into organizing my daily tasks to communicating over various platforms with others.

This activity was very beneficial in alerting me to what I use my phone for and how that benefits my everyday life. Currently, my textual activity is more prominent to me than my social activity, however the effort I can supply to that type of communication is present. The uses for communication that my phone technology provides is vast; I can use it to communicate to mine and others’ advantage. The use of my phone technology does not have to act as a negative aspects, such as a distraction from my homework. Rather, I can use it to benefit me in larger tasks that are more interactive and meaningful than things to cross off of a to do list. This activity is something I will remember when communicating socially and textually to make the most of my technology.

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