Disconnect Your Life: A FOX28 Special Report - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Disconnect Your Life: A FOX28 Special Report

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Do you wake up every morning and immediately pick up your cellphone, looking for missed text messages or Facebook notifications?

Is the last thing you do before you go to bed every night, check your phone?  You're not alone.  In fact, studies show some people are addicted to their smartphones.

We wanted to find out how difficult it would be to go a day without a wireless device.  We found two people who agreed to disconnect their lives for one day.  Two people, living very different lives.

Michelle Snyder, better known as Mic, is a mother of three and a fitness trainer.  Tim Scott is a businessman by day, and a South Bend Councilman by night.  Both admit they may be using their phones just a little too much.

Snyder says she is on her phone, "probably 50 percent of the day, I would think. If you think, every time you're just sitting there doing nothing, you look at your phone."

Scott says, "Every day. Actually too much. I'm reading things into the evening, looking at voicemail, that type of thing."

So, we challenged them to disconnect for a day.  No phones, no tablets.  They could still use a desktop computer and land-line phones, but no iPods, iPhones or Droids.

By 10am you could tell, both were already starting to feel the pain.  "I think this morning it really hit, how much I use my phone," says Snyder. She adds, "In my classes, my timer, my Pandora. It's like everything is on your phone."

"There is a bit of withdrawal. There is a bit of disconnection," says Scott.  Did you catch that word, "withdrawal."  Dr. Martina McGowan at IU Health Goshen says it's a lot like other addictions.

"There have been enough studies to show that it's just like drug withdrawal. Patients get antsy, uneasy, do full body searches to find their phone," says Dr. McGowan.  McGowan knows a little something about being connected.  She's very active on Twitter with more than 8,000 followers and also writes a blog.

She says this "addiction" to being connected is really showing in our young people.  In a recent study, 90 percent of freshman at Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne reported symptoms of Phantom Vibration Syndrome, that's where they feel like their phone is buzzing, even if it is not.

McGowan says it's a fear of being left out, that keeps so many attached to their devices.  "It's become part of people's self worth so they start to feel worthless and left behind so that's why they spend all their time checking their status, updating their status, fabricating their status," says McGowan. 

Back to our subjects.  "I don't even have CDs. I don't know how to use the CD player anymore," says Snyder.

Both found they had to make some adjustments.  Scott tried to plan ahead the day before.  "I did send out an email saying, 'I will not have a phone today, so contact me on this.' So I have a phone and a pad of paper," says Scott.

When we checked in with Scott around 2pm he was pretty antsy after spending his lunch hour without his phone.  "At lunch time it was a little unnerving because I was like, 'okay, what's on my phone? I wanna look at it, but I didn't," says Scott.

Meanwhile, Snyder has been keeping busy with housework in between classes at the gym, and figuring out how to take care of a few things.  "I had to use the house phone to call the doctor's office for my son's mouthguard. Then I was like, 'well, how do I get the phone number? It's in my cellphone. So I had to use the computer because we don't have phonebooks any more," says Snyder.

Despite the challenges, both resisted the temptation to dig out the phone.  But, by 6 o'clock they were both pretty much feeling the same thing:  looking forward to the morning, when they can have their phones back.

Scott found it particularly challenging to get through a committee meeting without his iPad.  "The electronic devices, there's just so much convenience and that's what I've been preaching with Council and trying to get them to go away from paper," says Scott

After they had some time to reflect, and check up on all those missed calls and texts, they did say the experiment shed light on just how much they depend on technology.  They say disconnecting is something everyone should try.

"I think it would be awesome to have people do that. I mean, I go to dinner with my husband and I look over and he's on his phone!" says Snyder.

"You've gotta step away. I think everyone's way too intensely involved with electronics and being connected," says Scott.

If nothing else, Dr. McGowan says it is for you own good.  "You have to take care of yourself physically and it's important to engage with people in real life, face to face interaction," says McGowan.

Would you like to disconnect for a day?  Click here to take the challenge. Then share your experiences right here on FOX28.com.

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