Disconnect: A case study of short-term voluntary mobile phone non-use

Sun Kyong Lee, James E. Katz


A group of young adults were observed and interviewed as they spent a weekend without access to the mobile phone and Internet. Thirty-seven students participated in a program, entitled “unplugged weekend.” How they experienced the social interactions and flow of time without the usual interruption by mobile communication was the main point of examination. Contrary to our expectations, the 48-hour period of disconnection was judged to be a unique, entertaining, and satisfactory experience for most participants. Using humor, establishing common grounds, and uses of the body were three main characteristics of co-present social interactions observed during the trip. There were “dual” perceptions of time flow: Some reported that time slowed down whereas others reported that time flew rather quickly throughout the weekend. Overall, many participants rediscovered the value of co-present embodied interactions by sharing various activities while giving undivided attention to one another.


Mobile phone; non-use; time; copresent interactions

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v19i12.4935

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