'I'm, Like, Forced to. I Don't Know Why. Facebook Takes Up My Whole Life.'

How a 14-year-old girl (compulsively, constantly) uses technology
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Shutterstock/D. Hammonds

Casey Schwartz, an eighth-grader in Millburn, NJ, is 14 years old. She got her first computer (a toy) when she was 18 months old. She got her first cellphone (a real one) when she was in the second grade. Casey now owns a white iPhone 4S -- a device she takes with her to school. And keeps on the table at meals. And carries around her house. And stores next to her pillow when she sleeps.

Here are some things Casey told The Huffington Post's Bianca Bosker about her digital life.

On her iPhone:

"I bring it everywhere. I have to be holding it."

"It's like OCD -- I have to have it with me. And I check it a lot."

On the social necessities of owning an iPhone:

"[A friend] wasn't in the group chat, so we stopped being friends with her. Not because we didn't like her, but we just weren't in contact with her."

"[That friend] has a smartphone now, so that's what gets her in. We always loved her and she was always our good friend, but she was excluded -- and she knew it, too -- because she didn't have an iPhone."

"We'll be sitting on a couch next to each other, texting each other," she notes. "We text in the same room. It's weird, I don't know why."

On the 56 text messages she and seven friends exchanged, as a group, 4 p.m. on a weekday:

"That's not even a lot. That's small. And we were in school the whole day also."

On Facebook:

"It's not like I want to or I don't. I just go on it. I'm, like, forced to. I don't know why."

"I'll wake up in the morning and go on Facebook just ... because."

"Facebook takes up my whole life."

On technology in general:

"If I'm not watching TV, I'm on my phone. If I'm not on my phone, I'm on my computer. If I'm not doing any of those things, what am I supposed to do?"

"I think that in a few years, technology is going to go back and people won't use it anymore because it's getting to be a lot. I mean, I don't put down my phone. And it makes me wish that I did. It's addicting."

Casey may not be representative of her generation, or of her gender, or of the subspecies of humans sometimes classified as "digital natives." But her comments are revealing nonetheless. She seems to love her phone -- and her Facebook -- in spite of herself. She seems not to want the constant connection the digital world provides -- and yet to be, finally, unable to escape it.

"It's getting to be a lot," she says. Before, probably, returning to Facebook.

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Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

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