Everyone seems to have one. You may be reading this on yours right now. Smartphones seem to be everywhere you look. Rather than just contributing to society, smartphones have taken over.
Sometimes I sit at the back of a lecture hall to look at what other students are doing on their smartphones. Out of 50 screens, about 20 percent each are on Facebook, texting, Snapchatting and watching Netflix, another 10 percent are shopping online, and only a few show the biology notes on the Pulse app.
Texting, shopping, and surfing are tempting activities for students. Cengage Learning reports that 35% of students text while in class. The National Education Association recognizes the risk of distraction and offers teachers ideas to turn smartphones into learning tools. It’s a noble goal, but is it realistic? I may chuckle at the screens of my classmates every now and then, but our generation’s inability to focus is a serious problem. I can’t help but think that this inefficiency is fueled by smartphones on the market
Despite the high cost of smartphones, professionals, students and the general public feel the need to be constantly in touch and online. The Pew Research Center reports that 93% of people aged 18-29 want to avoid being bored, 47% want to avoid people around them, and 57% want to go somewhere.
People also want to keep up with the growing speed of everyday life. The Pew Research Center reports that 99% of 18-30 year old now text, while 91% email. The irresistible, almost addictive nature of smartphones’ efficiency and connectivity abilities is creating an issue. A 2014 Pew American Trend Panel Datasets reported that 41% of smartphone owners said they couldn’t live without it, while 70% said that it gives them freedom. The group most affected are the most vulnerable: young people.
If smartphones are a life necessity, what happens if a user is denied or restricted in the use of one? The Journal of Elsevier’s article “Computers in Human Behavior” reported significant increases in student anxiety after just 60 minutes without their smartphone. Clinical Psychological Science reported that since 2010, teens spending more time on new media sources with smartphones were more likely to report mental health issues than those who spent time on non-screen activities.
While I don’t mean to put down anyone’s choices on smartphones, I certainly hope to notify them about the interference in studying, test taking, driving and any other concentrated activity.
Smartphones are not bad. In the hustle and bustle of modern life, smartphones have impacted almost all walks of human life for the better. Smartphones are valuable to our daily lives because of their efficiency and ability to allow us to connect with each other. The smartphone is only a pocket-sized PC, but the device seems to have limitless potential.
However, we have to use smartphones in an advantageous way. Mobile technology has drastically impacted cultural norms and individual behaviors, both positively and negatively. We should educate users on how to use smartphones smartly.