The Smartphone and Its Limits

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The Smartphone and Its Limits

Olivia Starr uses her phone on a school bench.

Olivia Starr uses her phone on a school bench.

Maleah Fennessey

Olivia Starr uses her phone on a school bench.

Maleah Fennessey

Maleah Fennessey

Olivia Starr uses her phone on a school bench.

Maleah Fennessey, Staff Writer

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In today’s world, smartphones are everywhere. Texts jump between devices, photos are uploaded to social media sites and questions are constantly googled. However, is there a downside to using these intelligent devices?

A survey conducted among 164 seventh graders asked what they believed their phones are mostly used for. A majority of them responded by voting for texts and calls (26.2%), with social media being a close runner-up (22.6%).  Very few of them said they didn’t have a phone.

With phones reaching the hands of people at younger ages, it’s difficult to not be exposed to the digital world. On average, according to Inc.com, children get their first cell phone at age 10, and 50% will have a social media account by age 12.

In some ways, owning a phone is beneficial. Today, instant messaging allows you to speak quickly and conveniently. Smartphones allow you to perform the functions of a computer without the bulkiness.

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But phones can pose a threat to our safety. An unassuming student might visit an exploitative website, or download an app containing an information-stealing virus. The internet also creates opportunities for cyberbullying.  Many people can see mean comments and even repost them. Often a bully will choose to remain anonymous, making them harder to find. 

Phones can also bring down our moods. According to Childmind, studies show teens who use social media are likely to have bad mental health and anxiety.

BlueTechLenses says that screens emit something called blue light, which can be healthy. It boosts your mood, makes you alert, and tells your brain when to sleep. Sounds harmless, right?

No. Not at all.

The site also says that using phones at night interrupts your circadian rhythm, the brain function that tells you when you should sleep, leading to insomnia. Overexposure can cause headaches and nausea. Lastly, blue light might cause retinal damage (damage to the part of the eye that focuses light so you can see). However, if people budget screen time, they can avoid these symptoms.

 But how much is too much?

Another question on the survey asked participants if they thought the world was growing too attached to their phones. 100 said yes, 6 said no, and 57 said maybe.

Perhaps one day we will stop phone overuse, and the world will look away from their screens and smile.