Smartphones do much more than just message and call as, new apps and internet access usher children through adolescence and into the world of social media. In 2012, the PEW Research Center found teenagers send up to 60 texts per day on average. Since then, the time teenagers spend on their smartphone devices has spiked exponentially.
Smartphones continue to include more functions giving teenagers the incentive to invest undivided attention to a screen about the size of a dollar bill, instead of the vast world around them.
Teens caught up in the web of social media
PEW Research Center also published an overview of technology usage among young adults, searching into technology use across several platforms this past June. It found 73 percent of American teenagers have smartphones. Smart phones connect a plethora of media, social networks and gaming platforms. Amanda Lenhart, Associate Director of research in the PEW study, found 24 percent of teenagers were able to stay online constantly throughout the day thanks to smartphones and 56 percent were able to go online several times a day.
It’s argued that too much time is being spent on internet platforms through smartphones when teenagers could be spending more time with loved ones in person.
A message to students
Utah Valley University made a statement about cell phone usage on the social media this past June. The stairway leading to the Student Life and Wellness center at the university was divided into three lanes. The lanes include a walking, running and texting lane set up by the Communication and Marketing Department.
The Creative director of the University, Matt Bambrough, describes the change as an attention grabber. He adds, “The design was meant for people to laugh at rather than a real attempt to direct traffic flow.” The photo went viral shortly after posting. Worldwide, viewers are reacting to the creative design of the stairs and commenting online about the impact smartphones have.
Put the phone down… Put it down and back away
The internet is a gift and can help a message reach thousands of people in under minutes. Yet, young adults are building dependence to smartphones.
A study conducted by researchers at Baylor University in 2014, investigated cell phone usage and cell phone addiction. Researchers found 60 percent of college students admitted to a certain level of cell phone addiction and needing to have their cell phone with them at all times. Dependence to electronic devices starts in youth and continues into adulthood, if not brought to light and dealt with early on.
John M. Grohol, Psy.D., goes into detail about the possible coping mechanisms in facing cell phone addiction. Understandably, smartphones allow people to send important emails and texts on the go and complete many functions which would formerly require a computer. Yet, they also allow usage of social media, games and other apps round the clock.
Some steps Grohol recommends for dealing with smartphone addiction include:
- Tracking cell phone usage
- Slowly start cutting back
- Make connections with people in person not online
- Turn the phone off
- Don’t let technology control you
The smartphone opens an abundance of doors to meet with others online, yet takes away from the time one could spend with people away from the screen. Grohol warns, “Cell phone addiction doesn’t have to ruin your life, your work, or your relationships with others.” He encourages seeking help from a therapist if the above methods are not enough.
Cell phone usage should be monitored in teenagers, so they do not end up addicted and unable to turn away. Dependence to a smartphone can be dealt with by talking with them about it or by seeing a therapist if needed.
White River Academy is a therapeutic school for troubled boys ranging from ages 12 to 17, providing aid for boys struggling with issues at school and interpersonal problems. The academy provides treatment and care for the youth, continues a strong education program and instills good character values. For more information or to register, feel free to call 866-520-0905.