The Addiction is Real

April 11, 2016

I’ll never forget the day I got my first cell phone. I was in fifth grade and finally convinced my parents after months of begging to get a pink razor flip phone. Although this is incredibly embarrassing, I have no shame in admitting I had spent many afternoons with friends after school in the Verizon store basically stalking the phone until I could finally say I had my own. The day I finally was able to share with everyone my new number is when the addiction began. I was forever changed by what I thought at the time was modern technology. Pressing my dial pad to text every three minutes, learning how symbols could translate into smiling and winking faces, new ringtones set custom to who called, the obsession was real.

The pink razor flip phone only lasted for two years. I still have it to this day and will forever cherish my first step into technology. Now that all smartphones have taken over the world my prehistoric flip phone doesn’t seem at all as impressive. I constantly see children, as young as third graders, with brand new IPhones; families out to dinner with their toddlers holding Ipads; girls walking through the streets with their heads down texting, not looking at the views around them; couples at restaurants not talking and faces locked in their emails or scrolling through social media. The exciting thrill of getting a new phone has now become a real addiction that is affecting us more than we can understand.

I feel completely hypocritical even criticizing this idea that we are too obsessed and reliant on technology. I am guilty of probably every point I am critiquing, however I am aware I am doing it and want to make the effort to stop. I am currently studying abroad in Florence, Italy. The other day I was walking with a friend down a street I have walked about one hundred times. Never once did I notice the frescos on the exterior of one of the buildings if my friend had not pointed it out. The painting were beautiful but I never noticed it because every time I walked that street I was on the phone, texting, or scrolling through some form of social media. That was one of the moments I had known my funny obsession might be a problem.

From research I did about the impacts technology is having over new generations I was immediately taken back. The following statistics stood out to me the most. The average young American will spend 10,000 hours playing video games before the age of 21. One study discovered that 88 percent of all Americans between the ages of 8 and 18 play video games, and that approximately four times as many boys are addicted to video games as girls are. In America today, many families allow the television to raise their children. In fact, the United States is tied with the U.K. for the most hours of television watched per person each week.

Studies have shown that blue-enriched light, which is emitted by gadgets like smartphones, tablets and laptops, can suppress the body’s release of melatonin at night. Melatonin is a key hormone that helps regulate your internal clock, telling your body when it is nighttime and when to feel sleepy. Blue light can disrupt that process, making it impossible for you to stick to a proper sleep schedule.

You don’t really need science to know this, but technology makes it much easier to get distracted, whether that’s stepping away from an important project to check your smartphone or flipping between multiple browser tabs without really focusing on any one. It has been proven that toggling between multiple tasks at once doesn’t actually work. In fact, we preform our duties even worse. We can’t remember as much information, are much more forgetful, cant concentrate as well, and now rely on the Internet, mainly Google, to give us all our answers. There is no more time for self-discovery or taking the harder way to retrieve information. We now need everything to be fast and efficient.

As a citizen fully participant in this new wave of modern technology I feel that it is important to limit how much our lives are spent in front of screens. Our smartphones are now an extension of our hands and news posts on social media are an indicator if we are still alive and well. Instead of being educated on all the ways technology is amazing and important, I think it should also be reinforced, especially to newer generations, the importance of a life outside technology and social media. We need to do things for our own human interests and pleasure, not for an Instagram photo of Snapchat story. Go to a restaurant to enjoy an amazing meal out and try not to only want to take a photo of your food. Talk to your friends in person, be in the moment, and don’t answer your phone or emails when out to lunch with someone. I know it is hard and something I have to get better myself, but as a society it is critical to recognize the impacts technology is ultimately creating.

Snyder, Michael. “40 signs that we have seriously messed up the next generation of Americans.” Investment Watch, 3 Sept. 2012. Web.

Hiscott, Rebecca. “8 Ways Technology Makes You Stupid.” The Huffington Post., 25 July 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

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