Ever waited impatiently for a reply to a text, only to discover you got distracted before hitting ‘send’ in the first place? Or walked into a room only to forget… hang on, why am I here?
As a teenager, my days often go a little something like this… check emails, go to school, social media, social media, more school, go home, social media, social media, homework, social media and social media. I love my smart-phone. I do. But everywhere you look, people are glued to their screen.
We’re all missing out on opportunities to notice and appreciate the world around us. This smart-phone addiction is seriously affecting our ability to focus too.
I can’t even watch a movie without checking my phone, which means nothing ever receives my full attention. And that’s pretty scary.
I always poke fun at the world before social media and today’s technology but, there’s some truth behind the jokes. To us life without a phone would be a literal killer.
Even Chick-fil-A is picking up on the cell phone epidemic. Chick-fil-A CEO Dan T. Cathy couldn’t help but notice that even when families are eating they’re still on their phones, so he decided to do something about it. Now 150 Chick-fil-A’s are changing their table set up and included a box where restaurant goers can place their phones while they eat. “We really want our restaurant to provide a sense of community for our customers, where family and friends can come together and share quality time with one another,” Brad Williams, a Chick-fil-A operator in Suwanee, Georgia, said in a statement. “As we all know, technology increasingly demands more of our time and can be a big distraction, even while we’re eating. This got me thinking about what we could do to reduce this distraction during meals.”
Researchers at Pew Research Center claim smart-phones are also making us think less for ourselves. A study has shown that people who have strong cognitive skills spend less time on their devices than those with weaker cognitive skills. Those who think in an analytical way also pick up their phone less frequently because they remember things or are able to work problems out for themselves. That’s scary. I’m afraid it affects the quality of my work and how well I learn. I also worry about my dependence on my phone for managing my to-do lists, getting directions from map apps and more. It turned out to be a relief when I went on a school trip last year and couldn’t use my phone.
The study conducted by Pew Research Center showed that smart-phones were making us lazier than ever as we saw them as an ‘extension of our mind.’ I don’t know if Googling information is replacing natural curiosity, but this is certainly a trend that will only get worse in the future.
Since 2004, the Pew Research Center has gathered data on teenagers’ ownership of cell phones, charting their meteoric rise to near-ubiquity. In 2004, 45 percent of teens aged 12 to 17 had a cell phone. In 2010, Pew reported that 75 percent of teens had a cell phone, and by then researchers characterized the devices as “indispensable tools in teen communication patterns.” And in 2013, Pew reporting that 78 percent of teens owned a cell phone (and almost half of those had smart-phones, meaning that 37 percent of all teens have smart-phones.
If you want a real challenge, try unplugging for a few days, you’ll be surprised. Your brain can be just as powerful as Google! Go out get some fresh air and unplug. After the first few hours you’ll realize that maybe the world outside of social media isn’t as bad as you thought.