Over Christmas break, I remember remarking to my cousin about potentially trading in my iPhone 6 for a flip phone. Horrified, he proudly unlocked his own to prove that to give up a smart phone would be ludicrous. He said, “Kendra! Getting a flip phone would be like willingly returning to the Stone Age!”  I laughed at this reaction, because surely could live without a smart phone even when most millennials could not. The difference between myself and most of my generation is social media. I assumed because most of my peers compulsively maintained a healthy online profile on sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat they would naturally feel like giving up their smart phone would be the end of the world. After all, the only real difference between a smart phone and a flip phone is social media, right?

In short: I was wrong.

Upon returning to school, I had the misfortune of having my phone stolen and my smartphone hypothesis was put to the test. Other than the general feelings of annoyance at having such an expensive belonging being taken, I also felt my every day routine being greatly impacted. Throughout this journey, I discovered five crucial ways that a millennial uses their phone for other than social media. Here are the areas where I missed my phone the most and how I overcame these inconveniences:

  1. Transportation
  • With a Smartphone: Living on campus without a car can be very inconvenient. As a result, my primary modes of transportation are walking, the E (the bus) and Uber. The key to maneuvering both of these systems lies on my smart phone. Little did I know that not only is the E app the primary reason that I know the bus schedule, but that it is also a safety measure. Knowing that my phone has a GPS in case I get utterly lost is a source of great comfort and is often used to help give me walking directions. Likewise, Uber is a great convenience when I need a quick ride to get groceries or visit a more out of reach location. Therefore, a smartphone is very useful gadget when getting from Point A to Point B.
  • Without a Smartphone: The E has schedules that are printed out pamphlets for pick up at the Blasco Library. Also, schedules are posted at every stop. Maps are also available for print online for both the E and Erie. Also, rather than Ubers, there are taxis that can be called around Erie. Old school taxis may feel weird, but they are handy when scheduling big trips in advance.

    2. Banking

  • With a Smartphone: One of the most important features of my smart phone is my banking app. Since my bank is not within walking distance and mostly operates within hours that I have class, trying to manage my accounts can be very frustrating. Luckily, my bank offers a mobile banking app. This app is beautiful when needing to quickly check account balances, transfer money and even deposit checks.
  • Without a Smartphone: Operating without a phone, I have found that banks are really cooperative when you call in. There is also a 1-800 number on the back of most cards that you can call to manage accounts remotely. Unfortunately, the only real way to get around depositing is to visit in person.

    3.  Calendar

  • With a Smartphone: The source of my life is my Outlook calendar. My calendar not only includes my daily meetings, classes, and pre-arranged nap time, but also the lists of what are required for each. A healthy schedule is a central unit to any college student. My calendar tells me where to go, when, with whom and what to bring.
  • Without a Smartphone: One great way to keep a backup of your calendar is a planner. I opted to print out my weekly calendar and keep it in my planner as well as write in my daily appointments.

    4. Group Communication

  • With a Smartphone: One of the greatest joys of working at Gannon is collaboration. Many of the teams that I am a part of here use apps such as Slack and GroupMe to streamline communication.  They are great for sharing documents and asking quick questions.
  • Without a Smartphone: Unfortunately, I could not find a true substitution for these applications. Instead, I had to constantly message a friend who was in the know to bring me up to speed. Therefore, contributing was very hard if not impossible.

    5. School Work

  • With a Smartphone: The most underappreciated attribute that a phone offers a student is the ability to complete homework anywhere at any moment. My personal favorites are the Google Drive applications: Docs, Sheets, and Slides.  I also use my Kindle app to keep on top of my reading. These are super convenient when trying to get work done at any time.
  • Without a Smartphone: There is not really an alternative to doing school work on your phone. Instead, I suggest really unplugging and focusing on work when you have a computer.

Overall, there are a lot more uses for smart phones than we may initially believe. These little devices can be central to our everyday lives, especially for millennials. From banking to working, our phones help us be more efficient and better use our time. I certainly do not intend permanently switching to a flip phone anytime soon. Instead, I plan on using my phone to increase my efficiency during “work time” so that I can be more present during “play time.”