Are we Addicted to our Smartphones?

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In the past decade, smartphones have exploded in popularity with teenagers, and many believe that they represent a whole new generation of human history. With easy access to the world’s information, instant communication, and a lifetime of entertainment that fits in a pocket, people in the world, and at Pentucket, think life has improved. But are people actually happier, or are they just addicted to their screens avoiding everything in the world around them?

After touch screens were developed and popularized in smartphones, they were easy enough for even young children to use from an early age, and it wasn’t long until a majority of people owned a smartphone. Most believed that they would improve their lifestyles, and originally this was the truth. As smartphones were improved and popularized however, a new invisible danger appeared: addiction.

The problem with smartphones was that they replicated the ease of use and entertainment offered by previously invented technologies, such as televisions, music players, computers, game consoles, and even books. Most saw that it was a massive advantage to have all of these technologies fit in one device, but since any of these things could be addictive on their own, it is bound to captivate any person for hours.

With so many things to do with them, a smartphone will inevitably detach people from the world around them, and engage them instead by making them feel happy and forget about society’s issues. Mrs. Millard, a guidance counselor at Pentucket, commented that smartphones “sort of allow you to avoid what’s going on.” She further states that, “It’s a tool of avoidance that brings comfort to uncomfortable situations.” Clearly, smartphones have set up the perfect formula to help the user feel satisfied, and thus, become addicted.

Most students at the Pentucket Regional High School own a smartphone, this is undisputed, but many people are not willing to admit being addicted to phones. An online survey with twelve participants from Pentucket calculated that most students spend between two to four hours on their devices each day. Four hours is a long time, more than the time span of half a school day. Although many people can control their usage time, a large amount of students have trouble going long periods of time without checking for notifications or texts. Many students play games or use social media at lunch instead of talking to their friends, and others use their phones to procrastinate and avoid doing homework. One student, who remained anonymous, even went as far to say, “I think people who spend the majority of their time on social media are wasting their lives, they are losing social skills and devolving out of society.”

As for solving this issue, there is no clear way of helping people get unhooked permanently. “I think it’s really hard to enforce how often people use their phones,” says Mrs. Millard. With no clear solution in sight, it seems that the only clear way of ending phone addiction is by empowering students to take control of their own lifestyles.

Overall, smartphone addiction is not the most pressing issue in today’s society, but a lifestyle that does not heavily rely on phone use can help save time for real face-to-face communication, and help strengthen skills for dealing with uncomfortable situations. People may overuse their phones for years to come, but if a student can simply recognize the need for change in their own lifestyle they can reap many benefits of a non-virtual life. It is up to each student to determine for themselves whether smartphones improve their lives, or if they need a break from their screens.