Smart phones: the ultimate time-savers or tough-to-tackle addiction?

As you walk into the school cafeteria and pass by any table, there is a common sight: people on their phones. Many students are eating their food while looking at a screen. Sometimes the whole table is consumed by looking at their devices rather than talking to each other.

Walking into a doctor’s office, a restaurant, or just down the street, everywhere you look, people are on their phones.  Do talking, texting, and checking social media inhibit our ability to make face to face conversation?

Or are smart phones incredibly versatile and helpful tools? The power to call for help, or a ride from anywhere is extremely valuable. Before cell phones you could be stranded with no way to contact help; now, wherever people go, they are connected and can make a call, whether it is just to a parent, or 911.

With navigation you can get directions to anywhere, and the phone also provides the security of tracking systems, allowing you to be found if you are kidnapped.

Having a camera in your pocket wherever you go is also a meaningful feature. Not only can people use it to capture beautiful moments in nature, but also, everyone has the potential to capture and document injustice in society. The power of the smartphone camera can be used to change the lives of many people.

Video filmed by average people on their phones is some of the most dramatic and moving footage you can find, and has been crucial to the campaigns of many social change organizations such as Black Lives Matter.

This is because it isn’t the news, it’s an everyday person who happened to witness something, and is able to share it with the world because of their phone.

These videos have exposed atrocities being committed around the world, and as the videos are shared prolifically across the Internet, attention is brought to the problem, and hopefully, things change.  

A smartphone also provides endless entertainment, which is a blessing and a curse. A phone connects you to the world. The Internet is a never ending source of distraction and information.

If you can’t put your phone aside while doing homework especially, then it can become a problem. “When I was studying I just asked my Mom to just hide it from me,” said junior Lucas Willocq.

Senior Ben Goldman has an easier time putting his phone to the side when working. “I just put it to the side and concentrate on what I need to get done,” he said. This is certainly not as easy for everyone, and having a phone puts more pressure on people doing schoolwork.

The age at which kids get smartphones is also younger and younger. Goldman had an iPod touch in elementary school. “It was nice because I could play games, but I didn’t have data,” he said. Now third and fourth graders have iPhones instead and are always connected.

In class, this is extremely distracting, especially because it can be harder for younger students to put the phone down and really focus on work when they have to.

Junior Anaviah Clemons said, “I don’t really care what adults think about [teenagers]using their phones too much. But it is bad how lots of little kids are getting focused on social media.”

“My sixth grade brother already has an iPhone and uses Snapchat and Instagram all the time,” Clemons said.

This can be a big problem as The University of Derby, England recently conducted a smartphone behavior study, finding that smartphones can be addictive, especially to young children, and should, “come with a health warning.”

According to Pew Research Trust’s Internet Research Project, more than 90 percent of U.S. citizens own a smartphone, and 67 percent of users check their smartphone for calls, text messages, and social media activity even when the phone is not ringing.

Overuse of screens is also very bad for eyesight, and there can be lasting negative effects. “Using my phone too much is why I have glasses,” said junior Ethan Lefebvre.

Despite the negative aspects, your phone can be a source of comfort. Senior Isaiah Ruhe once was without a phone for almost two weeks. “Whenever there was a down moment I was constantly reaching for my pocket, and then remembering it was empty,” he said.

Everyone now does this without thinking, reaching for the phone, not necessarily for a particular reason. It’s done out of habit, and is a reflex more than a choice.

When you have your phone, however, you know you are safe and have a tool to get a ride, food, or whatever else you could need. Senior Avery Clotfelter said he’d rather “have it and not use it” than not have it.