I am a smartphone user who has everything organized. I have one home panel with a few folders and every app I frequently use is fine tuned to maximize how efficiently I use its features. I change sounds, vibration styles, times or day the application may notify me, and other customizations that streamline my “cell phone” experience. I think everyone should do this, not only to simplify one’s day but to limit one’s screen time as a whole. Work smarter not harder. And as adults, we have the ability (or at least the option) to choose when and how we consume technology.
Sometimes we can get sucked in, though. You may have heard or said something like this before: “You’re always on your phone!” or “I’ll wait until your done typing.” or “Is that your umbilical cord?” if you were my grandparents. Either way, one hope’s the next call they get on that screen wakes them up from how distant (and in some cases rude) the phone user is. Recent PEW research data shows that almost all adults under 50 own either a cell phone or a smartphone.
It’s hard to imagine that just over a decade ago half of adults had phones. But since smartphones and cell phones have become commonplace researchers have begun to assess the good and the bad consequences of this increased usage, particularly on children.
In June 2018 the International Journal of Information Management released some of the first data addressing these questions and “findings suggest that compulsive media use significantly triggered social media fatigue, which later result in elevated anxiety and depression.” Social media fatigue is experienced when one feels anxiety or overwhelmed communicating online but when one reacts to step away from social media and also sees increases in anxiety and depression creating what could be a cyclically damaging emotional set.
Children are especially vulnerable to these emotions. Peer pressure, social anxiety and bullying are rampant in online platforms and it’s difficult for parents to keep up with the ever-evolving communication mediums. Radiation and other concerns that have yet to be fully tested also plague fears of parents looking to introduce their children to the convenience of a smartphone. Neilson asked parents why they chose to introduce smartphones before 13 years old:
While this communication can make a family more connected it can lead to some issues. The New York Times released a piece January of this year highlighting some of the addictive tendencies of smartphones when children’s screen times are not properly managed. A recent social culture reform push in America has pinpointed online bullying as another grave issue facing children today and social media has played an unfortunate role in mass-producing the vileness of others.
Be mindful when you’re around children and be sure to manage your own screen time. Even adults can be affected, even physically, if the wondrous tool of the smartphone is used. It’s important to get some fresh air, go for a walk, and enjoy some sunshine now and again.
Check out our Health & Science section for some tips and tricks on how to wake up every day feeling more refreshed and energized.