I Didn’t Use the Internet During Class and Actually Survived

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The population of students who can actually stay off the Internet during class is as small as the number of Hillary supporters actually happy about the election results (#ImWithHer forever). That is to say, practically zero. But like most good things in life, using the Internet in class isn’t healthy, which led me to try a week of going technology free during all my classes. Do you think you can survive with no technology in class for an entire week?

The Rules

Just like the time I quit coffee, I decided to go cold turkey. I normally take notes on my laptop or just keep it or my phone open during all my lectures or discussion sections whether I need it or not. I mean hello, some classes are so boring I need a distraction. For this week, however, I would use nothing but a notebook, only checking my phone during breaks.


My English professor actually doesn’t allow any kind of electronics in class, which I guess made this a little easier for the first day. In high school, I remember doodling in the margins, passing notes with a friend or planning out complicated plots for a story when I felt bored in class (AKA all the time).

Surprisingly, I didn’t need to resort to that today. Although I wondered just how long we would discuss the meaning of a single word, I wasn’t bored. My professor was fairly entertaining, getting up into people’s faces and dancing (yes, dancing) up and down the aisles. She also seems to really love La La Land. But hey, any Ryan Gosling fan has to be a cool person.

My mind wandered a bit and my fingers itched to check Snapchat a couple times, but other than that I didn’t feel like crawling up the walls and screaming. The lack of distraction also meant I actually participated a little, which for me feels as hard as running a marathon.


Oh dear God, why did I ever inflict this punishment on myself? Today was the closest I came to quitting this whole experiment. I enjoyed my history lecture, but there was just so much material and so many important dates that I scrambled to write. You can bet my hand ached after class. I certainly couldn’t read my handwriting. (That ought to make studying fun.)

When it came time for the break, I pounced on my phone like a starved animal and didn’t want to put it away when the lecture started again. I did notice that my eyes didn’t feel dry or tired like they usually would, which was a plus.

notes taken by hand no internet in class

Valerie Siu

During my afternoon lecture, I seriously started to regret the whole thing. You see, this professor isn’t exactly what you’d call entertaining. He droned on about his lack of Twitter followers. Believe me, his dull voice could make an episode of Scandal boring. Besides that, we literally covered zero material. So what did we discuss in class, you ask? I have no idea. I resorted to doodling and daydreaming. We really talked about nothing important, but I still probably should’ve made myself pay attention. I did, however, manage to iron out a story idea I had, so I guess the two-hour lecture wasn’t a total waste.


I have a limit when it comes to staying fully engaged in class. Don’t get me wrong, English is interesting, but even without my phone sometimes I have the attention span of that dog in Up. After a while, I really need to put in effort to stay focused without my mind wandering, no matter how energetic the professor seems. Also that class takes place during dinnertime which of course means hunger will start to kick in, making my stomach grumble. Feeling hangry sucks, y’all.

Usually, I’d find myself texting a friend. That’s what iMessage was made for, after all. Unfortunately, my electronics ban meant I had nothing to distract myself with, so I actually listened to and enjoyed the discussion. I learned more than I ever needed to about ducks (don’t ask me how that’s related to an English class), but also picked up cool tips on how to analyze a story that I probably would’ve missed if I’d been busy on Twitter. After class, I nearly walked into a tree in my haste to catch up on missed notifications.


not using your phone in class

Valerie Siu

History went perfectly fine today, except for my messy handwriting. I almost didn’t miss my phone or laptop, and actually craved chicken tenders more than Buzzfeed. But as for my afternoon class, things went way differently. Everyone sitting around and below me in that lecture hall had their laptops open, and none of them paid any attention to the actual lecture going on. I saw people on Facebook, doing other homework, boot shopping on Amazon and even messing with their Spotify playlists.

Now, I’m usually not a jealous person, but today I wanted nothing more than to dramatically sweep everyone’s laptops off the long lecture hall desk. I survived by passing notes with a friend. Yep, we were in middle school again.


No class today, yay!

The Takeaway of No Technology in Class

I guess I survived—sort of. For the most part, I was fine without my phone or laptop during class, and taking notes by hand actually made it easier to copy down diagrams that my professors drew on the board. I also found that I remembered what we discussed in class better than I usually did, especially in English where it wasn’t info-heavy. Also, I probably would’ve missed my professors’ surprisingly funny jokes if I had my head buried in my phone.

For dense lectures like history, I never realized how much I relied on my laptop to get everything down. When I looked back on my notes this week, I realized that most of what I wrote was illegible, although I did notice that I only wrote down what the professor said was important. I guess not having to weed through tons of notes will make it easier to study.

Will I keep using my laptop in class? It depends. If I can find distractions with just my mind and a pen, then it doesn’t matter if I leave Facebook open. As for classes where I’ll probably miss something not terribly important but entertaining? I guess I can unplug every once in a while.

Valerie is a senior at the University of Washington, studying English/Creative Writing and History. She loves anything caffeinated, Netflix and long road trips. She'll always be obsessed with Once Upon a Time, Scandal, Private Practice and Agents of Shield.

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