Edit Desk: The Smartphone Generation

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Emma Faber, B&W Staff

Emma Faber, B&W Staff

I can’t remember the last time I went more than a few minutes without checking my cell phone.

Aside from times when I am required to put it away, like when I am taking a test, I compulsively check my iPhone for new text messages, e-mails, GroupMe messages, etc. Like most other young adults my age, it’s safe to say that I am addicted to using my smartphone.

This nearly 5-inch long piece of glass and aluminum completely owns me. The first thing I do when I wake up is check my missed messages and refresh my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram news feeds. Right before I go to bed at night, I do the same.

It’s no surprise that technology use among young adults is on the rise. According to the latest Piper Jaffray “Taking Stock With Teens” survey conducted in the spring of 2014, 61 percent of teens own an iPhone, which is up from 55 percent who owned one last year.

But what is it that makes adolescents and young adults so attached to these devices?

With over 1 million apps in the iTunes app store, it really does seem like there is an app for everything. For business needs and personal interests alike, it is almost certain that there is an app to make every aspect of life easier and more efficient.

For this reason, the iPhone has become incredibly valuable. It’s no longer just a way to make calls and send texts; it’s your entire lifeline. Personally, aside from the basic communication functions, I use my iPhone as a calendar, GPS, camera, newspaper, personal trainer and much more. If I lost my iPhone, it really does seem like I would be losing everything. Maybe this justifies the fact that I don’t let it out of my sight.

While iPhones really do help us be more connected than ever before, I think that they are causing people to actually be less connected in a social sense. By spending so much time using technology, people are losing the ability to interact face-to-face with one another and maintain real relationships.

Unfortunately, there is no app that can teach social skills.

I notice this effect most when I am out with my friends. It is nearly impossible for us to go out to eat without someone “Instagramming” her meal. Or, if something particularly funny happens, it is almost guaranteed that we will all be taking videos and photos to add to our “Snap stories.” While I am very much guilty of this myself, I think that it is important to realize and reflect on how ridiculous it is. I often think to myself: Why do we feel the need to share every detail of our lives with people who probably don’t care?

Just a few years ago, it would be possible for me to put my phone in my backpack for an entire school day and not feel as if a part of me is missing or that I’m going to have an anxiety attack. It also used to be possible for me to hang out with my friends without us all having our phones out to document every “Insta-worthy” moment.

Sadly, I don’t think that we will be going to back to how it used to be. While I do love technology and how much it has enhanced my everyday life, I do miss the simplicity of times when my iPhone wasn’t so important to me and how I could be fully engaged in an activity without looking down at a screen every few minutes.

Luckily for me and others of my generation, we can realize how much technology has developed over the past several years and see its rising influence on us. For those a few years younger, however, they don’t know anything different.

My middle-school-aged sister, for example, has grown up with technology always having a strong presence in her life. Because she was exposed to technology at such a young age, she can’t even fathom a life without it.

While I would like to say that I have a proposed solution to this technology craze, I don’t think that it’s possible. Technology and smartphones are everywhere, and their influence is only increasing. As time goes on, people won’t even remember what life was like before technology and smartphones took over.

When I was in middle school, it was reasonable for my parents to limit my technology use to an hour or two a day and ask me to put my phone away at the dinner table. However, this may not be the case now.

Since technology has such a large presence in nearly every aspect of daily life, it seems impractical to try and limit it. In fact, it’s possible that parents who limit technology use may be creating a disadvantage for their children.

While it may be impossible to try and slow down the ever-increasing wrath of technology and smartphones, we must find a way to preserve “what used to be” and maintain important societal standards.

Check out the video that inspired me to write this article.

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