Following the Light

Jamie LaGattuta, Staff Writer

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This 4-inch piece of metal called a phone controls our lives whether you want it to or not. It could be your morning alarm, music source, or a way to keep your grand kids from getting out of hand. But what if those were only the secondary uses? What if its true intention was thrown away and now a phone was a mechanism to hide behind? Eyes glazed over from scrolling endlessly on social media and obtaining an absurd amount of knowledge. But when does it stop? People can’t even go into the bathroom for a few minutes, the shower, or a simple dinner conversation without going on their phone. Aside from physically being on it, it takes up so much mental space in your brain. People are always asking themselves, “Did so-and-so text me…are people making plans without me…oh my God I need to check the weather tomorrow so I can wear a certain outfit otherwise my day is RUINED!” People don’t like being called two-faced but isn’t everyone? Think about it. The you that you are reading this right now, is that the same you online? On Instagram are you always looking your best? Filters may be used, a little facetune, maybe even Photoshop. Whatever it may be, it’s not you. You spend so much time changing how people view you instead of working on how you view yourself.

On another note aside from deep affects, what about the blatant fact that phones are distracting? If you are trying to study for your geometry test you know nothing on and out of the corner of your eye you see your phone, you are going to wonder what’s going on with your friends. The average smartphone user checks their phone 47 times a day! With all those 47 times you may think you are just checking something, but that one second floods your brain with ideas and thoughts about what possibilities there are in the future of your life. It has been proven that you can be addicted to your phone. It even has a name. It’s called Nomophobia, which is the fear of being without your phone. Research and studies show how phones negatively impact our lives. Originally made for good, they have now turned into mini computers that have the ability to cause anxiety, stress, narcissism, depression and loneliness, attention deficit disorder, and sleep deprivation. If that doesn’t make you want to make changes in your life, I don’t know what will.

Just from my observations alone, it has become normal for us high schoolers to procrastinate to levels I didn’t even know were possible, give up, cheat, and just overall be unproductive. All because of a tiny piece of metal. There is nothing that is THAT important that you and I need to take hours of our day just slumped on a couch becoming brainwashed. As these devices become more integrated into our personal and digital lives, this increase in time on our phones is a representation of both a culture and technology shift. This high usage and dependance has made it the norm. Statistics show that 90% of surveyed teachers stated the number of students with emotional challenges increased, 67% of surveyed teachers observed students being negatively distracted by mobile devices, and 89% of parents blame themselves and caregivers for the responsibility of a child’s phone use. These numbers are high. Based on the survey I had students take, 49% will text or call someone in the same house as them, 56% have FOMO (fear of missing out), 60% lose track of time while on their phone, 65% spend more time on their phone then they would like, 76% take their phone into the bathroom with them, 81% use their phone when there are more productive things to do.  So it seems like some people want to make change, and that’s a start.

With change in mind, I read an article titled “How to break up with your phone?” Some tactics were to keep the phone out of sight when in social situations, turning off audio notifications, keeping your phone out of sight when you are alone, deleting apps, and turning off the device at night. Now while all of these are great ideas, they aren’t going to work unless you understand what you would get out of it. More studies have been done, and one in particular was when nine teenagers gave up their phones for, wait for it, A WEEK. A WHOLE WEEK!!!!!! Another shocker, without their phones they were doing their house chores and homework, *gasp*. Get this, they even started reading books, crazy I know. I didn’t even know they still made books. All jokes aside, imagine what you could be doing with your time. Maybe instead of getting home from school and going right to your room to watch the newest vlog or spill the tea with your friends, you were just you, in the moment. We get so caught up in our phones we forget what is around us. Make someone else smile today, make yourself smile. Go home and turn on some music and just dance and jump on your bed. People are so concerned with what other people are doing with their lives that they are forgetting to live their own. Whatever happened to not being in your house until dinner time and going to the park and shooting hoops with the neighbors? Little kids are so happy when they are little and play dress up and become different characters because they are making something for themselves and being imaginative instead of staring at a small screen.

With changes like lowering your phone usage, your life could be a lot happier. They say that the most successful people get up super early in the morning. No one else is awake so they have the chance to get their day started and get stuff done. That’s what setting goals is about. Seeing what you can achieve and improving. I’m telling you that you can improve yourself and others around you by just using these little things less. Sounds pretty easy, so maybe it doesn’t have to be so hard. I challenge you to go home and not post a snapchat selfie or video ranting about a teacher. Just grab a snack and look at what’s around you. A world is out there to discover. If you think this life of being consumed by one thing is normal, you’re wrong. Go live life to the fullest!