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Life Without Cellular Data

Life Without Cellular Data
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The absence of “obsolete” payphones in 2015 limits us to one option incase of an emergency. Our mobile phones have become our only source of help if we are in trouble. This has become a commonly known fact, at least in America, and most other countries are catching on to the trend too. Many children in the U.S. and the UK are receiving their first cell phones before they even reach thirteen. We live in a mobile phone dependent society, as we rely on them incase of a flat tire, accident reporting, or simply ordering a pizza. The commonality between all of these instances is that not one of them requires cellular data.

Cellular data has given us access to the internet nearly anywhere, and this constant source of information could lead to complications. Smartphones grant users access to millions of applications. These applications range from games to social media, which are enough to boost serotonin levels in almost anyone. We use our phones to check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and then back to Facebook again. Once we have checked all of our social media, a new story has appeared on the first app we checked, and we check it again. It’s a vicious cycle and ultimately a distraction from the real world around us.

Whether we can admit it or not, the modern smartphone has ruined many chances for a good conversation in real life. We are constantly thinking about photo opportunities for Instagram or feeling a vibration from a Facebook notification, and are consequently distracted from the people around us. The people who we are closest to are put on the back-burner for our digital friends. We are comforted by the constant connection of our online friends, but disconnecting from them, leaves us struck with anxiety.

A term coined by YouGov, a research organization in the UK, was created to help explain our need for constant mobile phone contact. Anxiety produced by separation from a smartphone is currently called “Nomophobia.” This term is not actually recognized by doctors, yet. Nomophobia is, as of mid-2015, simply a social phenomenon. Some experts believe that Nomophobia can be caused by social anxiety, low self-esteem, and panic disorder.

Separation from the smartphone enhances negative feelings and causes intense levels of stress. The smartphone has become an addiction because it makes us feel good in multiple ways. While the entertainment value of a constant internet connection can make you feel good, it can quickly become an unhealthy habit.

Therapists are recommending people with smartphone addictions to take the “reality approach.” This reality therapy simply asks patients to focus on behaviors away from their cellphones.

Masses of people are taking the reality approach, and not all of them suffer from Nomophobia. Nick T, a writer for PhoneArena, took the reality approach as a social experiment. Nick T writes “without it drawing my attention, without the temptation to waste time by playing a game or going online, I felt more productive both at home and at work. My generally terrible attention span was steadily improving.”

Nick T’s observations while going dataless parallel many others’ opinions as well. Generally, people who take the reality approach have reported feeling much happier and productive without constantly checking their smartphones. It has also saved them money on their wireless service bills allowing them to break even further from their data “ball and chain.”

LG Env2 life without cellular data
LG EnV 2

I have personally tried going dataless by switching cellphones completely. Going from a perfectly functional iPhone to an LG EnV, I set myself up for some big changes. The adjustment was actually great, for a while. I connected more to my friends and family. I chose to call loved ones, versus passively stalking their Facebook page.

Unexpectedly, I gained a sense of satisfaction from the clicking of actual keys on the phone’s keyboard. The clicking of actual keys made texting fun. At one point I was faster at texting on my non-smartphone than I was on my iPhone. Because of this, I became very close with an old friend during this time. We were communicating constantly, our friendship had blossomed, and I was genuinely happy about that.

Unbeknownst to me, one addiction became another and I was still using my EnV as much as I was previously using my iPhone. Simultaneously, life became more difficult. During this time, I was a senior in college and any college student knows email is critical. A professor might cancel class suddenly or remind me of a project that was due tomorrow, or a host of other urgent things. Email was a necessity. The lack of access to email put me behind the curve in many ways, and my grades were actually reflecting this.

I eventually switched back to the iPhone that had been sitting in my bedroom drawer for a month. I quit calling and texting friends as much as I used to on the EnV. These friends slowly drifted away. Although I lost touch with a few people, my grades improved. Lack of email access negatively affected my life and I ultimately decided that living without cellular data was not an option for me.

Virgin Mobile life without cellular data

Some people’s lives are negatively affected without cellular data, while some people’s lives improve tremendously. If going dataless sounds like the optimal route for your life, Virgin Mobile currently offers a plan that nixes cellular data completely. This plan will limit you to Wi-Fi to connect your iPhone to the internet. This plan is much cheaper than almost any other smartphone plan that requires a data package. For $20 a month, the Wi-Fi Lovers Delight plan will give you 300 talk minutes, unlimited text messages, and a cellular dataless lifestyle.


If you do choose to go completely dataless, there will be times when an internet connection is a necessity. Luckily, there are apps on the App Store that will help you in a bind. Wi-Fi Finder, available for free, will quickly and easily find Wi-Fi hotspots while you are outside of the home.

If switching to a plan without any cellular data sounds extreme to you, there are options to disconnect when you feel it’s appropriate. iPhone users can turn on and turn off their cellular data at anytime. This will allow you to control access to the internet and only be connected at chosen times.


Turning off your cellular data can direct your attention to more important things while saving your phone’s battery life for emergencies. To turn off your iPhone’s cellular data follow the simple instructions below.

  1. Tap “Settings”
  2. Tap “Cellular”
  3. Switch off “Cellular Data”
  4. You can verify cellular data is turned off when the “LTE” notification on the top left of the screen is gone.

Turn on cellular by simply swiping the Cellular Data switch back on.

While going dataless isn’t for everyone, it is for some. Many students, employees, and entrepreneurs require an internet connection at all times. For the majority of us, the internet can be switched off after we leave the office or while spending time with friends and family. Emails and Facebook notifications can always wait. While your cellular data is off, loved ones will still be able to contact you anytime via a quick text message or an overdue phone call.


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