Gabb for Good: A Digital Detox Q&A

Words by
Jake Cutler

MAR 18, 2024

Gabb for Good: A Digital Detox Q&A

It might seem odd for a tech company to promote a phone fast. But from the very beginning, Gabb has been about using technology in better ways—not letting technology use us.

One of the risks we often talk about in our educational content is excessive screen time. Earlier this year we decided to do more than talking because our kids aren’t the only ones negatively impacted by too much screen time. Doing a company-wide digital detox week was one way for us to walk the walk.

The experiment was such a success that now we’re inviting you to join a broader Gabb Digital Detox! Take a break from constant connection for 7 days (or longer) and discover the benefits of unplugging from tech and plugging into life.

As a primer and potential preview of the benefits you could enjoy, we asked two friends of Gabb to share details from their digital detox experiences. Lori Kun is a parent of two teenagers and executive at Gabb. Sahana Kargi is a Miss Utah Volunteer pageant titleholder and digital content creator with a platform focused on digital literacy for youth.

If you’re intrigued about trying a digital detox but think it’s not doable, think again. Both women are extremely busy and use technology on a daily basis as part of their livelihoods. If they can make it work, you might be able to as well.

The benefits could be greater than you think!

What led to your decision to do a phone fast?


Like the average American, I spent 7+ hours staring at a screen per day. Most days, much more. As a co-parent to two teens, working in tech with nearly 2 hours of commute time and a very communicative group of friends, I averaged 75 texts a day, 4.5 hours listening to music and podcasts and an endless stream of multi-tasking — replying to workplace threads in the driveway or providing feedback on documents while in line at TJ Maxx. 

I was in the Denver airport recently when I was drawn to the book How to Break up with Your Phone, by Catherine Price and took a poll in the first chapter — did I sleep with my phone? Wake up to my phone? Worry if I couldn’t send a text?

The teen magazine style quiz key told me I was addicted. I had to ask myself: Was I really going to spend my family’s one wild and precious life staring into a screen 6 inches in front of my nose?


My phone has been a game-changer for my career as a content creator; it’s like my personal assistant. But let’s be real, spending 10-12 hours a day glued to my screen has drawbacks. Sure, I’m constantly creating content, engaging with my audience, and staying on top of trends, but it’s easy to get sucked into this digital world and forget about the real one.

With that much screen time, I’ve found myself battling anxiety about keeping up with my followers, creating viral content, and staying relevant. It’s like this never-ending pressure cooker of likes, comments, and shares. And when I’m constantly plugged in, it’s hard to switch off and find that balance between work and personal life.

Before starting, what were you hoping to get from it?


My intention for my 30-day phone fast was simple: try not to die without a phone. I kid, but in all seriousness, I was bumping up against a fear of being without it, which told me I definitely needed to do a refresh. 

Before I relinquished my iPhone I worried about how much I would miss out on and how I would navigate life without Waze. I sheepishly texted a few new contacts who I was supposed to meet that first week — “hey, I have a new phone starting tomorrow, so you might hear from there.” People were intrigued. The most common response was summed up with just — 💀 — emoji. “I could never do that.” “I would fall flat on my face.” “Good luck with that!” ‘You do you!” “I could never survive!” and “WHY?!?” 

Spoiler alert: I did not die. I actually became much more human, much more alive, and I felt more like myself. Using a device designed for kids made me more of the adult I wanted to be. 


For a while, I’ve had to make a conscious effort to set boundaries and create a healthier relationship with my phone. Implementing screen time limits, scheduling breaks, and prioritizing self-care have been crucial for my mental well-being, but I wanted to do more.

Recently, I found myself struggling to make genuine connections with my friends and family. While I was physically present, mentally, I was somewhere else. I wanted to use the phone fast to strengthen my relationships and spend more time living instead of just going through the motions.

Tell us about the type of phone fast you did


I swapped my iPhone for a Gabb phone for the 30 busiest days of the year — Nov. 20-Dec. 20 — and did a daily accountability check-in with a friend. I also defaulted to print when reading as much as possible.

I auto forwarded my number from my iphone to the Gabb Phone since I was not porting over my number for 30 days. (Editor’s note: For more detail on how Lori prepared for her phone fast, see her article on Medium.)


I committed to a 1-week digital detox. For the first half, I kept my smartphone in one place all day and I used it very minimally. I switched to a Gabb phone for the second half of the fast. I did not use any type of social media except to do posts for my job. I turned my phone to “Do Not Disturb” so as to not have any notifications.

What was the first thing you noticed once you started?


Even after the first 12 hours, I felt like my day had expanded. In the morning, I ran 5 miles, savored a cup of tea while listening to a Billie Holiday record and re-discovered my love of live radio on my commute. After dinner, I read a short book, took a bath, and still had time to journal. I folded an entire load of laundry in silence thinking about Carrie Newcomer’s song, “Holy as the Day is Spent.” I already felt like a person resurfacing from a long swim underwater and it was just Day One.


The first thing I noticed was how quiet everything was. Without the constant buzz of notifications and distractions, the world felt so silent. 

Initially, it was a bit unsettling, I caught myself intuitively reaching for my phone multiple times. Without the constant buzz of my phone demanding my attention, I found myself more present in the moment, able to focus on the world around me in a way I hadn’t in a long time. It was like taking a deep breath of fresh air after being stuck in a stuffy room for too long.

What did you expect and did anything surprise you?


I realized that we have more time than we think. The reverse of this is that I wasted much more time than I realized on my phone. I went from picking up my phone 87 times a day pre-fast to 5 post-fast. For me, the root problem with the phone was mindlessness. By swapping my iPhone to one that just called and texted, I was more aware of the time I got back.


I anticipated that disconnecting from my phone would help me feel more present in the moment, reduce feelings of anxiety, and perhaps even spark some new creative ideas. In many ways, the experience did match up with these expectations. 

I found that without the constant distractions of my phone, I was indeed able to focus more on the present moment and engage more deeply with the world around me. I also noticed a significant reduction in feelings of anxiety as I wasn’t constantly bombarded with notifications and updates. 

There were also some surprises along the way. 

One was how difficult it was to break away from the habit of reaching for my phone. Whether it was checking my bag or back pocket, there were always a few seconds of slight panic when I realized I didn’t have it. 

I was also surprised by how bored I became with my usual routine. My favorite shows felt so boring without having my phone to scroll through. I had to find new ways to decompress that fully challenged my mind. I didn’t enjoy reality TV anymore but became more interested in crime shows and cooking competitions. I also started to crochet — it was a way to keep my hands occupied.

What were the biggest takeaways for you immediately post-fast?


Most of the apps on my phone I saw as necessary could be done as tasks on my laptop. I was actually using AirBnb and Zillow to daydream about trips or aspirational real estate, which isn’t intrinsically bad, but I personally am better served by journaling or doodling.

I also realized that people are waiting to have conversations. I’m not saying to be the annoying person on a flight, but I found myself talking to strangers more and having the most interesting conversations. I noticed people more. I had a deeper awareness of the world. I ended up making a fleeting friend who was reading a book I loved at a tea shop. We bonded over grieving when a good book ends and we swapped recommendations that I’ve really enjoyed. These kinds of interactions sweetened my days and fortified my belief that the world is going to be okay.

The phone fast also changed the way I look at smartphones. They really do change the way we think. Being without my phone created space for inspiration. I read more, drew more, connected better. I worried less about what people thought. My brain opened and I felt like I was thinking clearer and less harshly of myself and others.

Smartphones are useful tools but sometimes the phone is not the best tool for the job. I found I really can swap my phone for an alarm clock and carry credit cards or (gasp) cash. Although the phone is sometimes more convenient, I find a journal and a calendar are better for thinking and planning. If I had the phone remember everything for me, I remembered less.


Immediately after completing the phone fast, one of the biggest takeaways for me was learning how to better manage my time. Without the constant distraction of my phone, I found myself more focused and intentional with how I spent my time. I started to prioritize activities that truly matter to me. 

I also experienced a shift in perspective that allowed me to prioritize my future-self over immediate gratification. Without the constant distraction of my phone, I had the mental space to reflect on how my present actions could impact my future well-being. This led me to make small but significant decisions, such as making my bed in the morning, organizing my space, and restarting more meaningful hobbies like crochet.

These seemingly mundane tasks took on a new significance as I realized their impact on my overall sense of well-being and productivity. Even just by making my bed, I was creating a sense of order and stability that extended beyond the physical environment. It set the tone for the rest of my day, empowering me to approach tasks with intentionality and purpose. 

Rather than seeking instant gratification via my phone, I learned to derive satisfaction from the sense of accomplishment that comes with taking care of myself and my surroundings.

What long-term changes have you made since doing the fast, if any?


On the last day of my phone fast, I upgraded my phone to a Gabb Phone 3 Pro, a phone designed for tech in steps, going from kids to teens. It has some apps like Calm and Canvas and Duolingo, but no social media or access to a browser. My plan now is that I will keep the number and use it as my work phone (remember those?) and also as an option if I need a reset.

My long-term impact changes from my phone fast: 

  1. Delete social media on my phone: For me, I just don’t think the benefits outweigh the addiction. I feel more secure in the life I am actually living. I now call people or text them directly when I wonder what’s up instead of checking their feed. I no longer rely on the loose dangly connections when we have a vague awareness of what someone we love is doing. I want to know more about how they are doing. 
  2. Permanent alarm clock swap: My morning scroll started my day off with a scattered feeling. When she was 3, my daughter once described my thoughts as a pile of papers near a window that could be scattered to the wind. I like that visual and I can close the window and quiet my mind by not being distracted by my phone. 
  3. Put the phone away when I am with people (in person or when in conversation). I know I won’t execute perfectly, but I want to go deeper with the people I am in relationship with and that requires being fully present. I was guilty of looking up something while I was on the phone with someone “real quick,” but what if I asked that person to explain what they were talking about? I prefer a human query and a human response. I can always fact-check later, but in the moment, it’s not necessary. 

I have tried a variety of intention-setting options after– I changed my phone to black and white, I deleted all unnecessary apps, and I put a photo on my home screen prompted by Catherine Price: “What for? What now? What else?” I have found them helpful, but none of these changes seems to have any more lasting effect than swapping out the iphone for another device.  I think I’ll be the type of person who swaps my phone to the Gabb phone when it serves me and not make a big deal of it to others. Since I can forward my number and check text messages in my laptop, no one will even know.

For me, it’s about flow, which I realize is the greatest gift of all– both with my kids and with my work or any other creative task, and thus I am guarding it with my life. My phone now stays perched in the kitchen, downstairs, as much as possible when I am home.   If there is one mantra of a phone fast it might be: “I own the phone, it does not own me.”


It’s been about a month since I finished the phone fast, and I’m happy to say that it has had a lasting impact on my life. One of the most significant long-term changes I’ve made is being more intentional about my phone usage. I’ve implemented screen time limits and established boundaries around when and how I use my phone, which has helped me maintain a healthier relationship with technology. Working from home, I didn’t have much of a work-life balance. Because of the phone-fast, I had to plan what hours I could work and what hours I would be completely disconnected. I’ve continued this.

During the fast, I also realized that my constant reliance on my phone for communication was actually exacerbating feelings of insecurity and FOMO (fear of missing out). Without the constant pressure to respond to messages instantly or keep up with every social media update, I was able to step back and reassess my approach to friendships. 

Instead of constantly worrying about whether I was keeping up with my friends online, I focused on being fully present when we spent time together in person. For example, I planned a Galentines dinner and was able to see all my friends — those interactions are far more meaningful than swapping memes or comments on each other’s latest Instagram posts.

By letting go of the constant need for validation and instant gratification, I’ve found a newfound sense of peace and fulfillment that permeates every aspect of my life. 

Overall, the phone fast was a transformative experience that has empowered me to live with greater intentionality and purpose, both online and offline. 

I do find myself reverting to some old habits, mindlessly scrolling being the main one. One week was not enough to completely rewire my brain and form new habits, but it was enough to see the negative impact my phone was having on my life and made me hyper-aware of the person I can be when I limit my phone and social media use.

Already Done a Detox?

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If you’ve already tried a digital detox, we’d love to hear about it. Let us know about your experience in the comments below. If you still have questions, let us know in the comments too.

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