Dateline   |  January 07, 2013

'Digital Detox', Part 1

NBC News' Natalie Morales challenges four self-professed smart phone addicts to almost two weeks without any type of digital communication. Will they be able to survive?

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

LESTER HOLT: to the New Year and whether you want to lose weight, get more exercise or make new friends, we have lots of suggestions for you. For starters, is technology taking over your life? It may be time for a digital detox. So we challenged four twenty-something roommates to live without electronic devices for almost two weeks. We're talking no smartphone, no Facebook , no Twitter . No GPS. Can they do it? Could you? Here's Natalie Morales .

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: I'm @rosalienina. Daily I 've send out, like, three hundred text messages .

LAURA SCHNEIDER: I'm @lada133. I'm pretty much am plugged in all day every day. I'm always. This is exactly what I'm doing.

KENDALL KLINGLER: I'm @kendallklingler. I have thirty-one missed text messages right now and that's from not checking my phone for about forty-five minutes.

CASSIE MAY: I'm @cassielynnmay. I am online eighteen hours, nineteen hours a day.

NATALIE MORALES: Meet Cassie May, Rosalie Gavagan, Laura Schneider, and Kendall Klingler. Four twenty-something roommates living in Hermosa Beach , California , who say they're addicted to their smartphones .

LAURA SCHNEIDER: Can you hear me now ?

CASSIE MAY: I can had anything interesting happening.

LAURA SCHNEIDER: Wow, this is a very tense text message .

NATALIE MORALES: And this is what an average Sunday brunch looks like for them.

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: I don't know why I sent that.

NATALIE MORALES: Four girls, four phones, and one very fractured conversation.

KENDALL KLINGLER: Anything interesting happened?

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Why does he get so --

KENDALL KLINGLER: That bad text the other day.

NATALIE MORALES: Would you be, like, in the same room and be texting each other.

CASSIE MAY: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

NATALIE MORALES: It's easier to say it through text than just say it across the room?

CASSIE MAY: Sometimes you can't say things out loud. Yeah.

NATALIE MORALES: When was the last time you guys were really just alone. No phones, no internet, no friends?

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: I can't remember.

LAURA SCHNEIDER: Maybe in the shower.

NATALIE MORALES: In the shower?

CASSIE MAY: In bed like --

NATALIE MORALES: Who is the most addicted, then? Oh, so everybody points the finger.

They grew up this way -- tweeting, liking, pinning, sharing, hash tagging and texting -- a plugged-in life is all they've ever known. But recently, the roommates started wondering if they were digitally overloaded; was being plugged in 24-7 really a good thing?

CASSIE MAY: Sometimes I 'm talking to Rosalie and she won't even be looking at me and she just be staring at her screen.

KENDALL KLINGLER: I can sit there and have try to have the conversation with Laura , and she'll have no idea that I'm even in the room.

NATALIE MORALES: So we challenged them to a digital detox, almost two weeks without smartphones , Facebook , Twitter , Instagram , or Google . No digital communication , period.

CASSIE MAY: Maybe our relationships will go to new -- new places, being able to actually talk and look at each other while talking. It's a whole new concept.

NATALIE MORALES: It's an experience that we might all learn something from.

SHERRY TURKLE: It's normal now to be on the phone essentially all the time.

NATALIE MORALES: Sherry Turkle , a professor at MIT , has been studying how we relate to technology for nearly thirty years. She says people who feel dependant on their smartphones should consider going on a digital diet.

SHERRY TURKLE: These habits of paying more attention to our phones than we pay to each other can be broken on a digital diet. And we make healthier choices.

NATALIE MORALES: The roommates agreed to the detox thinking of it as more of a vacation than a challenge.

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: I think I'm going to be fine.

CASSIE MAY: It will be a breeze.

KENDALL KLINGLER: It will be nice to have a break.

LAURA SCHNEIDER: Oh, maybe it'll be a little retreat for us.

NATALIE MORALES: But the more they talked about it, the less confident they sounded.

LAURA SCHNEIDER: I think the first day I'm going to freak out the most for sure.

KENDALL KLINGLER: And I don't want to lose them.

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Oh, my God, stop. I just got anxiety.

NATALIE MORALES: We kept the start date a surprise. So when it was finally time to pull the plug on their digital lives, I broke the news to them the only way I was certain they would see it --

NATALIE MORALES (Twitter video message): Hi , girls. It's Natalie Morales from DATELINE NBC .

-- I tweeted at them.

It's time to go on your digital detox.

CASSIE MAY: Where's that coming from?

NATALIE MORALES: So that means none of these. No more iPhones, no iPads.

CASSIE MAY: I'm starting to sweat. I'm actually --

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Actually I had to put on, like, seven layers of deodorant.

NATALIE MORALES: No digital communication , period. Can you do did? I'll check in with you in two week.

LAURA SCHNEIDER: Two weeks?

KENDALL KLINGLER: Two weeks?

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Can we tweet her back at the video.

CASSIE MAY: No, it's no.

NATALIE MORALES: But before taking their phones away, we laid out the ground rules, e-mail and internet could be used on computers for work only. We gave them talk-only cell phones for work and emergencies.

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: What's this?

LAURA SCHNEIDER: These are our call phones.

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Oh my God.

CASSIE MAY: I know so jank.

NATALIE MORALES: The roommates then had three minutes to jot down important information from their smartphones . Cassie , Laura , and Kendall scrolled feverishly.

CASSIE MAY: You really are instagramming now.

NATALIE MORALES: Rosalie seemed to be the most anxious about letting go of her phone and spent her last few minutes on social media .

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Did you check us in? You should check us in here one last time.

KENDALL KLINGLER: One last time? We're not dying.

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: We're kind of --

LAURA SCHNEIDER: Kind of.

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: -- socially, dying a slow social death .

NATALIE MORALES: She posted one last picture for the masses before going off the grid. Then we locked their devices away in this suitcase.

KENDALL KLINGLER: Do you want me to say a prayer for you?

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Yeah. I mean, I don't know what else. Bye. Take care of my devices, please.

LAURA SCHNEIDER: No phone. No life.

NATALIE MORALES: For the first time in their adult lives, they headed off to work completely and totally alone.

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: I don't know what to do with my hand. I typically would have my phone here. Or even here. Just guess do what they're made for driving, ten and two.

CASSIE MAY: I can't sit in traffic without my phone. I feel like I abandoned it.

NATALIE MORALES: Even though texting and driving is illegal in California , not to mention dangerous, Cassie admits she does it all the time. But today with no phone in hand, she decided to jot down her to do list the old-fashioned way, on paper.

CASSIE MAY: This is way more unsafe than texting.

NATALIE MORALES: After just eight hours without social media , Rosalie complained of physical side effects.

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: I think I actually have a headache. I kind of feel like I'm going to puke right now; kind of felt like I was actually having withdrawals. I know it's crazy.

KENDALL KLINGLER: Rosalie has a headache from not being on Facebook ?

NATALIE MORALES: She does.

KENDALL KLINGLER: Oh, she's so dramatic.

NATALIE MORALES: At the end of their first phone-free day, the roommates met up with a friend who was stunned they were actually going through with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You're not allowed to use your phone?

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Right, yeah, or internet, nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Facebook ?

LAURA SCHNEIDER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: E-mail ?

LAURA SCHNEIDER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How are we going to talk then?

NATALIE MORALES: Detoxing created some practical problems too. No phones meant no digital news.

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: These will keep us updated with the world, right?

LAURA SCHNEIDER: Right, it's got a nice selection.

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Us.

LAURA SCHNEIDER: Some Us, some People.

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: People.

NATALIE MORALES: No cell phone to use as an alarm clock.

KENDALL KLINGLER: A clock radio.

NATALIE MORALES: And no Google maps.

CASSIE MAY: All right. So I'm going to guide you from --

NATALIE MORALES: We rode along as the roommates made their way to Runyon Canyon .

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Do you know where you're going?

NATALIE MORALES: To them, using a paper map was the same as driving blind .

LAURA SCHNEIDER: Oh, I'm not -- definitely not good.

CASSIE MAY: I don't know how to navigate.

LAURA SCHNEIDER: I know.

KENDALL KLINGLER: I'm sweating. I'm pretty sure we almost just died).

NATALIE MORALES: How would they navigate their way through this one and would they survive the rest of the detox?

LESTER HOLT: Coming up --

KENDALL KLINGLER: I think we should take this squiggly line.

LESTER HOLT: -- our digitally challenged foursome navigates without GPS .

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Excuse me.

LESTER HOLT: What else will they learn from their online detox?

ROSALIE GAVAGAN: Why am I tweeting these things?