An obsession with cell phones has made it more difficult to communicate and pay attention
Like every other iPhone that has been invented the iPhone 5 is receiving a lot of attention from the media, which is amplifying the hype for this new piece of technology. However, while this iPhone is “new,” it is by no means a novelty. The iPhone 5 is not a groundbreaking technological breakthrough; it is simply the iPhone 4s in a slimmer setting and will be outdated within the next year. That is not to say the new iPhone 5 does not have its perks though. It is thinner and lighter and has a larger screen than previous iPhones. But these changes do not warrant the excessive commotion over the new iPhone; this commotion is instead created by our society which impresses upon us the importance of having the newest and fastest technology. This growing desire to possess smartphones is becoming extreme and is negatively impacting our society by making us dependent on phones.
Cellular phones, in general, are a large problem for today’s younger generation, but it is smartphones that are exacerbating that problem. They are giving teenagers and other demographics more reason to use their phones by adding a range of appealing applications. Smartphones may be useful for professionals who need the Map, Stocks and Utilities applications and who also rely on convenient Internet access, but these applications are not necessary for everyone. Younger adults and children use their iPhones to play games and listen to music instead of utilizing the useful applications, and they are becoming more distracted as a result. I have seen people playing Angry Birds in the middle of lecture and have even seen people watching a YouTube video on their smartphones during Communion in church. While the argument could be made that gaming consoles and other means of entertainment such as television are more to blame for the distraction of children, it is important to recognize that iPhones are far more accessible. So while children are distracted by their televisions at home, they are becoming even more distracted by smartphones, which are essentially a mobile television screen and gaming console that they can bring with them everywhere. Even adults fall victim to the temptation of WordsWithFriends and the application for Facebook. Cellular phones are meant for calling and texting one another occasionally to stay in touch, not for playing games and distracting ourselves when we are in seemingly mundane places such as school, church or work. There are some places that require our absolute attention, and smartphones are hindering that possibility. A smartphone is becoming a large part of our identity that is stored in one small device and carried with us at all times. As a result, we begin to spend time on our phone constantly because of its convenience, and we allow ourselves to be distracted, which affects focus. This, in turn, can affect productivity by decreasing academic or work performance.
A counter argument would be that iPhones and other such devices improve communication and provide for both practical and recreational uses. However, the extent to which people are using their phones for recreational use is becoming excessive, and the practicality of smartphones is undermined by their ability to be used as diversions and for entertainment purposes. As for communication, smartphones are actually diminishing it. The distraction of these phones goes further than just being found in academic and “uninteresting” situations. People are starting to depend on their phones even in social environments. People are now on their phones during dinner, at parties and even in movies. People cannot even hold conversations anymore without looking down at their phones, repetitively checking for new notifications and messages. This is a serious problem for our generation, and if we continue to be consumed by these phones, the only friend we’ll be left with is Siri.
These phones not only contain our lives, but they consume them. So it is imperative that we stop buying into this craze and forgo investing in the newest iPhones. We do not need all those extra applications, they are only a means to distract us. We should try to use our phones only for necessities, such as the occasional text, call or picture, and only use them in situations where we have available time. This means no Angry Birds in lecture or YouTube in church and no using phones solely to distract ourselves or when we are around other people. By limiting the role smartphones play in our lives we can improve our ability to see the world and to communicate with others. Contrary to what society manipulates us to believe, these phones do not own us, we own them.
Meredith Berger is a Viewpoint writer for The Cavalier Daily.