Negative effects of phones



Mary Rugolo


We are the age of technology. With iPhones playing such a permanent role in our lives, leaving the house without it can feel as though we are naked. Our phones have opened so many doors for us, allowing us to find information at the touch of a finger, linking us with family and friends miles away. It makes traveling, staying in touch and overall life easier. However, there are many drawbacks of having the world at our fingertips. It is what links us. However, is it causing more conflicts than it’s worth? How many times have you started a conversation with a good friend, a boyfriend or colleague to have their eyes uncontrollably shift toward the phone lighting up on the table? It is the constant distraction. It is the constant time killer that almost magically makes an hour on your phone feel the same length of time as a second of doing work or studying.

Is the constant distraction of having a phone permanently attached to us affecting our concentration? Even the act of having our phones on us can be a distraction because no matter what we are doing we know that in our pocket we could be missing the newest snap story or a funny post from our friend. We need to be in the know. But this need is affecting our relationships with people. To see if phones are affecting relationships, I spent an hour at a restaurant in town, Gulliftys. In that hour, every table around me had some sort of phone on the table. It was as recurrent as the silverware. Throughout the course of the dinner, at every single table around me, people checked their phones every few minutes. It was subconscious, almost like checking the time. But it sent a clear message to the person who was not on the phone. It made it seem as though the person on their phone was uninterested in what their companion was saying. It also brought the conversation to a screeching halt. The person talking would stop awkwardly because the person on the phone was not listening to them. Even when the phone was just sitting on the table, the people around me would have their eyes flicker toward them, breaking the concentration on the person talking.

This lack of concentration is having some sort of negative effect on a person’s ability to concentrate in everyday life. It brings to question what problems we have in society today that could have been caused by our phones. For example, when a person has her eyes glaze over when someone is talking to them, is it because they don’t know how to concentrate anymore? The act of studying and concentrating throughout the course of a class without checking your phone under the desk has become rare in a classroom. Is this affecting our grades?

The negative effects of our phones stretch further than our concentration levels. It can also be linked to self-esteem issues because of social media. With smart phones, our phones are no longer used just to communicate with people. Instead they are used to keep us constantly aware of every aspect of the lives of the people around us. It is impossible to escape the images shown to us. We are constantly being exposed to the perfect images of people around us. It is hard not to compare our real lives with the altered ones we see online. This brings up many questions that can be detrimental to self-esteem, especially for younger people. It causes people to question why they aren’t as successful, skinny, rich, polished or perfect as the images being portrayed. It is a comparison that we can never live up to. The images on our phones are not real. They are altered and adjusted and perfected. However, the constant comparison of our lives with the ones on our phones fill our minds with the list of things that our life is lacking, whether materialistic or emotional.

People can’t escape into nature or their thoughts when they are constantly influenced by the outside world. While the constant connection can be good, it is also a leash. It means that you are never free of your responsibilities. My friends will occasionally purposely “lose” their phones because they can’t escape the constant chatter, the constant people. It’s like having a ton of people in the room with you. You can’t escape your phone and the distractions it brings.