SMARTPHONES COULD BE THE BIGGEST THREAT TO OUR YOUTH
In 1983 the first mobile phone was made available for consumers, designed to change the way we communicate with others while on the go. Since then, mobile phones have become more than a way to call somebody. We take photos documenting our lives, send fun messages, instantly find answers to most questions, watch funny videos, purchase comfortable shoes, and much more. What was once a device we carried with us to make a quick call, is now the most important technological personal device used all around the world. Through these amazing smartphones, we can access just about anything or anybody whenever we want, while finding countless ways to waste hours self-entertaining through listening to music, competitive gaming, power shopping, and watching videos. The advance in technology for mobile phones has positioned the devices as one of the biggest and addictive threats to our youth.
We can go to just about any restaurant and see children using their parent's or even their phones instead of engaging in conversations or just learning the basic social etiquette for dining out with others. Using the phone as a pacifier or babysitter has allowed our children to avoid face-to-face social interaction. Unfortunately, it isn’t just young children that are using smartphones, but teens and adults continue to spend more time on devices to be entertained or find interaction with others through emails, texting, or social media. It is estimated the average American will spend over 5 hours a day on their phone, with Millennials spending closer to 6 hours. Numbers become even more daunting with almost 96% of U.S. adults owning a cell phone and 81% of those are smartphones.
The idea of getting lost in technology has been around since the birth of the telephone, movies, and television. Chatting on the phone for hours with a friend or enjoying our favorite shows on television were scheduled events that were done at home. In 2019 the average U.S. adult will spend more time on their phones than watching television, which is the first time since the launch of the mobile phone. With smartphones, a variety of experiences can all be done from the palm of your hand making it harder to compartmentalize enjoying traditional social gatherings with friends or family at traditional locations, like the park, beach, mall, movie theaters, restaurants or bars.
Teens are finding the ability to detach from their phones harder than most, with time spent on social media leading the way. Statistics show that social media takes up the majority of screen time, with Americans spending over an hour on Facebook and almost the same amount of time on Instagram. These are only a few of many Apps where young adults looking to express themselves, strive for validation through likes and gain more followers that are viewed as friends. The value that young adults have placed on social media over personal interaction and enjoying real experiences has become a contributor to the rise in suicide attempts in teens, girls especially. Trying to compete with others on social media is very stressful, but cyberbullying is a strain on young minds trying to find their identity and fit in with others. All factors have led to at least 50% of teens feeling addicted to mobile devices and an even higher percentage feeling they need to respond to texts and social media messages immediately. Addiction to mobile devices affects far more young Americans than more publicized problems like vaping or opioids.
The cell phone is one of the best inventions the human race has seen over the last century, but like most things in life, it is imperative to manage their use and help our younger generations understand the challenges they present. Many of us are probably reading this now on our phone which is great, but we must also take the time to set the phone down when we are done and engage in a conversation with someone in our lives about the issue. There are wonderful places and things to experience in this world that can fill our souls with much more than getting some “likes” on a post. Slip-on a pair of comfortable shoes to enjoy the people closest and leave the smartphone at home...after a quick photo.