Addiction series: phones and social media

Alyssa Smith, Staff Writer

Over the past two decades the world has been slowly taken over by the cell phone. It simply started with the desire to provide portable communication and grew tremendously into what we have today, a pocket computer capable of just about anything. The use of this technology is slowly seeping into every crevice of our society.
Classrooms are using technology and taking advantages of phones more and more. Some teachers are allowing students to use them for research or completing online assignments. Grocery stores are now providing online shopping and pickup, and online shopping like Amazon is dominating the market in almost every field. However, while there are many positive aspects of the modern-day cell phone, there are also negative side effects that come with it.
Most mobile phones today are mainly used for texting or social media. While texting can be a great, fast way to communicate, it is often not used as such. Especially with long, important conversations, texting is a poor method of communication. Oftentimes misinterpretation of tone, intention, sarcasm, and attitude plague these important conversations, creating miscommunication.
With the internet and social media literally at the touch of our fingertips, it is extremely easy to keep in touch with friends and relatives across the country or even the world. However, as good as that is, the side effect of being able to talk to anyone, at any time has major negative repercussions.
Being able to hide behind the cell phone has led to social media fights on different posts, comments, and platforms, no matter the issue. People are picking fights on all types of different posts, from cute posts advocating for pit bulls or the support a certain politician.
The problem with social media in general, regardless of the matter, people post anything and everything they want. The lack of thought regarding what should be posted closely mirrors the lack of respect in comments left on those posts. People are lacking the filter that is used in face-to-face conversations. The respect level on social media has dropped drastically for friends, family, and foes alike.
Some people are taking it upon themselves to argue and say whatever they want on a variety of posts. Even if they do not even know the person! Behind the screen of the phone, people are more confident and will suffer less repercussions for saying whatever floats through their head. Most of the aggressive and confrontational comments made on Facebook would not have ever been said in person.
This newfound confidence is leading to more and more conflicts on social media, which is further dividing people based on beliefs. Suddenly is it a horrible crime if someone you know has a different opinion that you on a certain topic. This belief is ruining relationships and making it more difficult to have compromises on major topics. As ‘digital citizens’ there are responsibilities that should be respected and upheld, and one of those responsibilities is accepting that not everyone will agree with you.
Sorry to break it to you, but your opinion isn’t right, it is your opinion. Other people have the right to think differently than you, and if you don’t like it then tough. If everyone thought and acted the exact same the world would not be the beautiful, diverse place it is. Do not shame or put down someone for thinking differently.
Not only are phones causing more conflict through social media, they are also dominating young children’s lives from an alarmingly young age. A common term applied to people the age of forty or younger is ‘digital natives’ because those in that age group have been surrounded by these devices since a young age.
According to the journal Bioelectromagnetics, in most countries the usage of mobile phones among teens is at least 90 percent (Schuz S50). Meaning that just about every teenager has a cell phone. According to the ‘2012 Survey of Internet Addiction’ at least 10.7 percent of teens are addicted to their phones.
A common side effect from being too attached to a phone is called phantom vibration syndrome. One study showed that 89 percent of undergraduate students are experiencing this, and it is because of our dependency on our cell phone.
The journal Bioelectromagnetics also says that phones produce radio waves that affect young children when they are developing, and it warns parents to limit the usage of these devices because of these radio waves.
Despite these warning that were published in 2005, parents are still using phones, YouTube, and all types of videogames as a parenting technique to appease the child or entertain him or her. Some parents even go as far as using it as a form of ‘childcare’ almost. It works in making sure that child doesn’t get into trouble, because the child does nothing but sit in front of that screen all day. Some children are even described as ‘zombies’ by others because all they want to do is watch a screen.
According to the ‘2012 Survey of Internet Addiction’, 7.3 percent of young children from the ages of five to nine are addicted to screens and internet. What is even worse is that the addiction of smart phones among children before they begin school has increased from 3.6 percent to 4.3 percent. Scientists are beginning to notice negative mental and physical effects on these children.
According to the International Journal of Social Science and Humanity in an article about the addiction of smart phones among young children, smart phone addiction in early childhood degrades function on the right brain and the frontal lobe is damaged. This hinders normal brain development because the frontal lobe is responsible for many important functions including being able to concentrate, think, and judge appropriately.
This is a huge problem that is not currently being addressed by anyone and it concerns our future. Ultimately, the only way that this problem can be fixed is by you. Only you as a student, parent, and sibling can avoid being addicted to your phone.
There are also tools that can help. Space is a free app for Android and iOS that helps you set goals to limit screen time and reminds you when you are using it too much. But there are also free apps like unGlue specifically designed for parents to limit and view screen time on their child’s devices.
Peter Parker’s (a.k.a Spider-Man) motto is a good rule of thumb that can be applied to almost any situation in life, especially this one. “With great power comes great responsibility.”