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Internet, social media, and basic communication are more easily accessed than ever before. Just within the last 20 years, technology, especially cell phones, have become more advanced, causing us to rely on them more. Today, cell phones are a necessary piece of our everyday lives. Smartphones, although extremely useful, have proven to be a distraction from work, friends, and even sleep. Despite the usefulness of smartphones, as Medical Daily describes, a recent study has shown people to have their attention span deteriorate as a result of too much use. Through my five years of having an iPhone, I have found that the smartphone can definitely impede productivity. Whether I am doing my homework or eating out with friends, I find myself constantly checking my phone. There have been multiple occasions where I missed out on something due to looking down at my device (especially when checking social media), including a game-winning buzzer beater at a University of Richmond basketball game.
As hard as it is to admit, I may have a problem with reliance on my phone, but I am not alone. A poll by Common Sense media found that half of teenagers believe they have a smartphone addiction. Several other Collegiate students have realized their addiction to their smartphones. Many of my peers have tried various techniques, such as turning off their phones or leaving them in another room in hopes of focusing more on schoolwork and enjoying the real world.
Despite it not being a choice, Andrew Scott (‘18) switched to a more simple phone for a month. Scott broke his phone and was forced to activate an old Blackberry in order to communicate with friends and family. Although he disliked the experience of typing on an actual keyboard and not being able to use social media, Scott claims “It was kinda’ nice not having to worry about checking notifications all the time.” He found himself more engaged and even slightly happier while being disconnected from the internet, yet he would regain access to his social media when he was on his computer. While out and about, Scott would rarely use his phone and says, “I only used it when I needed to, like for calling my mom and stuff.” Despite being oblivious to what was happening online during the day, Scott learned to not care as much about what was being posted. He thinks that the experience, as a whole, was beneficial since he decreased his amount of phone usage even after getting his iPhone back.
Connor McGloin (‘18) also plans to switch to a flip phone in the near future. McGloin explains, “I hate when people are all in a room and everyone is on their phones, not even talking.” He began to notice the lack of social skills within our generation since people will communicate via phone rather than in person. McGloin hopes that, “The people who really want to talk to me would come find me in person rather than snapchatting me.” He plans to switch over to an extremely basic Motorola flip-phone that can only text, call, and play ringtones. Already facing struggles, McGloin went on a two-day hunt just to find an appropriate charger for the Motorola, since they are rarely made anymore. Despite the hardships of the experiment, he hopes to break his habits of checking his iPhone constantly. McGloin hopes to start a movement consisting of people who want to end reliance on smartphones. He argues, “Wouldn’t the world be a much better place without smartphones?”
To McGloin’s point, yes, the world would be better, since there would be more conversations, more time, and even more focus amongst students. Just imagine what could be done in the estimated 9 hours teenager waste on their phones per day! Although I am particularly against heavy phone usage, the devices are simply outstanding. I am often in awe when I remember how easy it now is to find answers to questions and get in touch with someone halfway around the world. However, within my generation, the phone is far overused. I may not go as far as to switch to a flip-phone, but I definitely try to use my phone as little as possible when I’m out and about.
The first step to solving society’s reliance on smartphones would be to admitting they are becoming an issue within today’s youth. Both Scott and McGloin realized their problems with smartphone “addiction” and have worked towards not using them nearly as much as before. This is a difficult task, due to the constant demand of instant communication from friends, family, and even teachers. Despite missing out on a few social media trends or viral videos, disconnecting from the online world for a few hours a day can make a major difference in your focus, productivity, and social skills. According to Katherine Bindley of the Huffington Post, children are even losing the basic conversation skills as a result of too much phone usage. Our generation needs to learn that if you spend your time hunched over a screen, you won’t look up enough and will miss out on some pretty amazing things happening in the world.
Featured image: Spencer Lyons.