Moderation is Key

     In the age of technology, many electronic devices have caught mankind’s attention. Few inventions have damaged humanity like the smartphone. People have willingly let themselves be pulled into these addictive devices. Unfortunately, young adults are usually the victims. Everywhere people go, smartphones and IPods are out of pockets and notifying their owner of an unnecessary message. Adults and teenagers alike are unable to resist the urge of clicking the app button and viewing their favorite YouTube personality. Similarly, social media creates an atmosphere where people can see their posts receiving numerous “hearts”, “up-votes”, or “likes”. Many of us have been afflicted by the smartphone temptation. I believe that smartphones are harmful. These devices have demonstrated that they are capable of killing, distracting, and addicting people.

       As a teenager becomes old enough to acquire a driver’s license, they are timely equipped with a smartphone. A breezy, sunny Saturday afternoon could become a parent’s worst nightmare. As the teenager climbs into his car, he decides to text his friends in order to “hang-out”. Sadly, as he whips out his smartphone to text for quick message, he takes his eyes off the road for just a couple seconds. “1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving” stated by an article I found. Another horrible and sad truth also detailed that “texting while driving is 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk”. Prevention to this outcome is for parents to teach their children not to drive and text simultaneously. Unfortunately, teenagers are not the only victims. Young adults are susceptible, but they should know better than to drive and text at the same time. A source I used, explained that “unless you are capable of seeing and concentrating on two separate things with equal intensity, of course. This isn’t humanly possible, so you can put that thought away”. Although talk-to-text may be argued as an answer to this dilemma, it is definitely not. USA Today addressed the problem, “The NSC report, combined with Texas A&M research institute’s ‘Voice-to-Text Driver Distraction Study,’ warns drivers that talking can be more dangerous than texting while operating a vehicle, and the use of talk-to-text applications is not a solution”. The best solution to the texting and driving concurrently is not texting at all.

      A student walks into class early and spots ten other students on their smartphones. Other classmates arrive and immediately reach into their pockets pulling out their smart devices. This instance has often been the case I have found myself in. Furthermore, when class begins, students ignore the professor’s urge for removing phones. Oftentimes, I will find students lowering their heads viewing social media. Smartphones are a distraction. Ty Kiisel, a Forbes contributor, cited a real example, “my wife doesn’t have much patience for the way I check my iPhone every time it chirps or buzzes, nor my need to open up my laptop during a quiet Friday night in front of her favorite movie”. A common question may be asked: why do people have to be on their devices? A blogger holds the answer, where she says, “FOMO—fear of missing out—haunts children and adults alike. The dictionary defines FOMO ‘as anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.’”

When one reaches for their IPhone or their laptop, they could be subjecting themselves to the never-ending cycle of “FOMO”. For most of us, that is not the case. Realistically, the damage of having a smartphone constantly near is the reason why people pull out their devices. A short attention span only allows young adults to focus on one thing for a small amount of time. For example, when a family is gathered to play a board game; a family member could be taking a long amount of time to conduct his or her turn. A default action may be to remove one’s smartphone from the pocket to fill the time until it is once again his or her turn. However, continuous use of this action will result in a shorter attention span. Experts stated that “Microsoft sought to understand what impact technology and today’s digital lives are having on attention spans” and found that “human attention span has fallen from an average of 12 seconds in the year 2000 to just eight seconds today”. Unfortunately, the research does not end there, “humans now have less of an attention span than a goldfish (nine seconds average)”. Furthermore, 77 percent of young adults admitted to a truth, “’When nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone,’”. Sadly, many of young adults and teenagers are the ones afflicting their own pain without even realizing it.

      A smartphone addiction sounds ridiculous, but actually true. Society is becoming enslaved to their smartphones, when every buzz and beep must be answered or viewed. While waiting for the coffee to brew, teenagers may be tempted to pull their electronic device out of their pocket. Although if an emergency arises, everyone has to answer, but do not let smart devices rule lives. Forbes stated that in a study where young people had to remove their smartphones “felt physiological symptoms, like increased heart rate and blood pressure”. Another study laid out how suicide rates for young women increased, “Their suicide rate rose by 65% in those five years. The number of girls with severe depression rose by 58%”. The new rise in suicides was due to mental health issues and smartphones. “About 48% of those who spent five or more hours a day on their phones…had thought about suicide or made plans for it, vs. 28% of those who spent only one hour per day on their phones”. The previous example could be explained away by arguing that other activities such as homework, home life issues, and regular stress caused this reaction, but Forbes argued that “No other variables…could account for the rise in mental health issues over that time”. If smartphones have become a problem to the point of suicide, it may be time for the hand to stop reaching for the pocket.

      In conclusion, smartphones are damaging to people. Without reduction of screen time with electronic devices, people are in danger. Phones could indirectly cause a car crash, distract people from important classes, or addict teenagers to death. I am not advocating for phones to be banned completely, although society eventually could, I simply desire a safer, healthier, smarter world for all of us. Psychology Today said it best, “anything can be abused, and moderation is the key”.          

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