EDITORIAL: Innovative smartphone technology has turned into a social crutch


Herald Editorial Board

Issue: Nearly everyone in today’s society constantly relies on their smartphones without considering the damages constant cellphone use can do to their social skills.

Our Stance: Cellphones are an incredible and necessary tool people use every day, but it’s important for people to realize the harm that can come with overusing the most accessible piece of technology they have.

Ask someone under the age of 20 to describe what they thought the world was like before cellphones, and they’ll have a hard time knowing where to start. The idea people lived happy and efficient lives without high-powered computers in their pockets is almost incomprehensible.

This makes it no surprise that nearly half of young people, defined as all teenagers, admitted they were addicted to their smartphones, according to a recent poll conducted by Common Sense Media.

People touch, swipe and tap their phones an average of over 2,500 times a day, according to 2016 research conducted by a qualitative research website Dscout, and a typical person will browse their phone for around five hours every day, data by Flurry Mobile showed.

Cellphone use obviously goes far beyond communication, too, as many people use them for tasks like shopping, research and entertaining themselves with apps like YouTube or Twitter. With this level of interaction, cellphones are basically an extension of most people’s bodies.

Eighty percent of people admit to feeling phantom vibrations (a false sensation of feeling a phone vibrate when it hasn’t), according to website Addiction Tips, as well. Others have simply made it a habit to check their cellphone even when they know they haven’t received any notifications.

Constant cellphone use can upend a person’s social skills without them even realizing it.

Eighty-five percent of people will look at their phone at least once when talking to a friend or family member, according to 2019 research conducted by website BankMyCell. This means millions of people constantly divert their attention from someone they know to a five-inch screen while interacting with them whether it be from muscle memory or just a lack of respect.

The dangers of cellphone addiction only start there. Phone overuse is also linked to higher levels of stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation and ADD, according to BankMyCell data.

Teenagers who spend over five hours a day on their phones are more than 70 percent more likely to be at risk for suicide, as well, according to the same data.

Data confirms countless hours on social media have been linked with narcissistic personality disorder due to a constant stream of people “living their best life” corrupting others’ sense of what real people are like. FOMO (fear of missing out) can also make it difficult for people to turn away from social media, as they fear they’re missing some sort of news or exciting event if they don’t stay up to date.

On average, one of every three people claim they would rather abstain from having sex than abstain from using their cellphone, according to a survey conducted by mobile intelligence developer Delvv.

A 2018 study by environmental organization Down to Earth found that phone overuse could be linked to amnesia and memory loss, suggesting that people don’t have to remember nearly as much now since most people have instant access to seemingly endless information.

Most Americans now get their first cellphone around age 10, but Silicon Valley techies are waiting longer than this to give their children one, according to a Business Insider article. It seems the people who make smartphones realize these devices can be mental pacifiers that stunt or harm brain activity.

On average, people check their phones around 150 times over a 24-hour span, according to statistics by Mobile Coach, which balances out to around once every 10 minutes.

Cellphones are a necessity in today’s society, and they should be treated as such. Food is a necessity, too, but if someone is constantly eating, they could become overweight, sluggish or depressed.

Moderation is key with both necessities, but this is always easier said than done.

It’s almost impossible to be productive going a whole day without a cellphone, but trying to set an hour aside to not look at a phone can be a step in the right direction.

Logging out of an app after using it can help by preventing it from being mindlessly reopened and browsed for another 30 minutes, and someone putting their cellphone out of sight while home to try and accomplish something they’ve procrastinated on can help improve their attention span.

Also, avoiding long periods of browsing before going to bed not only helps with cellphone addiction but also falling asleep faster, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Cellphone addiction isn’t something that will destroy someone’s life, but it can absolutely stop them from reaching their full potential. People should be aware with how they spend their time, especially when it’s so easy to waste it.