Saturday, May 20, 2017

Smartphones: Great Tool, but Greater Distraction by Gayathri Eswara Kumar

Smartphones: Great Tool, but Greater Distraction
Have you ever been stuck in a room full of people on their phones, dissolved in their own worlds, refusing to pay attention or even acknowledge each other? Even with a phone as company, it must get lonely after awhile if it’s all anyone does. It is definitely not a healthy way to be communicating with others especially when they are all so close by. Although extremely useful in the most dire of situations, cell phones also present a huge distraction to teens both in school and in their everyday worlds outside of school. With acknowledgement to Pavlov’s dog, all the harmful effects on the body, as well as the lack of real time conversation and bonding, it can be gathered that cell phones present many dangers to the physical and emotional health of an average teen in this rapidly developing world and should not be used frequently.
Pavlov’s experiment concludes that after a certain period of time, any species, including us humans can become acquainted with the idea that something should be anticipated given a certain event occurs consistently, yielding the same result. What I mean is, we are always anticipating the arrival of something or the other even if we are not entirely sure what it is. I read an article to learn more about Pavlov’s experiment, titled “How Pavlov's Experiments with Dogs Demonstrated That Our Behavior Can Be Changed Using Conditioning,” which states that dogs began salivating every time the door opened, because they anticipated the arrival of food as they had before. Cell phones evoke a reaction much similar every time notifications pop up. As the title of the article suggests, conditioning can change our behavior. The more often we are put in the same situation, the more predictable and fast-paced our responses become. There is a clear connection between Pavlov’s experiment and what happens naturally today with smartphones. I see teens that are so intent upon staring at their screens that they barely watch where they are headed as they walk around.  Awaiting a text that may not appear instead of conversing in an environment with so many people around at all times is not healthy or beneficial in any way. A group of us may be sitting at a lunch table, but most of the time everyone will be checking their notifications and updates; there is no actual conversation that goes on during this time. Teens become isolated in this sense even though they may have chances to connect online. It is important to develop these communication skills as a young person so that in the professional world, one can learn to present themselves effectively. The use of cell phones makes teens less sociable, limits them in physical and mental aspects, and could cause unexpected health problems in the future.
For one, radiation from phones is almost insignificant, but using them all day almost everyday will surely do irrevocable damage, especially to young people, and has been known to have caused cancer in the past as a result of the repeated signals being sent back and forth by the phone even when it is not being used to call or text. It is a smartphone, so it’s always asking “where are you?” and replying “here I am,” to pick up any signals nearby. According to Devra Davis, the official who led a study in the Environmental Health Trust Organization and published an article titled “The Truth About Mobile Phone and Wireless Radiation,” putting a phone in your pocket will lead to abnormalities in the reproductive organs, and talking on it allows for radiation to spread gradually through your skull, which is why older people who have fully developed tissue and bone are not affected by this phenomenon as much. I know most people probably realize using smartphones is not healthy, but I don’t know that everyone knows about the severe health risks such as cancer. It is quite shocking to learn that all this time, we have been so unaware that we have been setting ourselves up for such health risks in the future. Another huge problem with the availability of smartphones is the continuous use of headphones; it is a known fact that using headphones for longer than an hour a day with 60% or more of the total volume for 3 years will cause partial or complete deafness in a person, and teens use them extensively with extremely high volume (Kirschner, Chanie). Above all, the most important point to focus on is the idea of using phones at night. High school starts very early, and we all dislike this fact, but complaining about it will do nothing; teens should exercise self control and put the phone down early enough to ensure they get sleep. Without it, they could easily have an extra hour of sleep. It is a recorded fact that teens spend nine hours a day- some even more- on their smartphones (Sassman, Brooke). This is a ridiculously high amount of time considering it is almost half the day down the drain. Having an emergency phone alone can be beneficial for most teens. I mean, think about it, there’s TV and a whole lot of other things for us to be preoccupied with; smartphones are only increasing the amount of time we spend on mindless pleasure. There is no requirement for us teens to have a smartphone, so arm yourself with an emergency phone for, well, emergencies alone.
Calling cell phone usage an addiction is an understatement considering most people cannot go even an hour without checking their phones. I have a flip phone and yes, there are some restrictions to what I can do, but I have so much more time on my hands (Not to say I do anything productive…). In reality, there are many things to do and learn as I have during my conversations with nature outside the window of my bus seat while my friends text away even though we sit together in the same seat. We should learn to look around and observe, learn to be insightful. Try to go a full day without a smartphone to understand just how much you depend on it. None of it matters once you grow up and face the real world. Live in the moment and get to know those around you since there is no telling whether or not you will cross paths again.

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