By Augustine Kanjia
In May 2017, I lost my iPhone 7+ in a friend’s car after she gave me a ride home from work. I persuaded her to search in case it had fallen between the seats, but she convinced me it was not there. Even so, I waited for five months before buying a new one, and I must confess that life was difficult without it.
It was then that I realised how dependent I had become on my smartphone: I am a victim of phone addiction.
In the past, messages were conveyed primarily by word of mouth, but today they are spread mainly by device. That’s not necessarily bad. In fact, smartphone use can be a good thing, but students’ increased dependence on these devices has raised many unanswered questions. As students, we should be mature enough to know the difference between the good, bad and ugly while using the phone. Spending all your time on it is detrimental to the eyes — and to relationships.
Watching students walk in every corner of the campus, one is bound to see students and workers concentrating on their phones. It seems there is no human touch these days, just touch screen.
On the other hand, smartphones are a necessity for many people.
“I have a taxi business in town, and I am in touch with my drivers,” said Glen I. Bangura, a 22-year-old junior Criminal Justice major from Worcester. “Sometimes I dispatch if my workers are not on duty. It is certainly a big deal [for me to be able] to use the phone. I have no option.”
Bangura can run his business, even while busy at school, all from his cell phone.
But excessive phone use has its drawbacks as well. Many students waste their time, neglecting their school work. Students have also had accidents while driving due to texting or the use of social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and others.
“I started being addicted to my cell phone when I got my iPhone 5,” said Peter Hanson, 23, a Biology major at Baker College. “I was given a citation for texting and driving, but I did not listen until I had an accident where I broke my left leg. Now I am not able to do any sport.”
On the Worcester State’s campus, like other campuses, students even use their phones in class during lectures, though many professors have banned them. This marks a tremendous change from the 90s.
“In 1993, you could see students walking in the corridors talking to each other and interacting,” said Professor Judith Jeon-Chapman.”But today it is mostly students and their phones in their palms. I am not saying they don’t talk, they do but it is far less than in the 90s when we were here at Worcester State.”
“We are all spoiled by our cell phones,” said Ganesh Gurung, a WSU senior. “Those who call us are also at the other end. It is only self control and maturity that can help cell phone users. People in my class use cell phones to look up news items. But outside of the class is more difficult, where students walk head bent in their phones even if there is a sharp reflection from the sun. I wonder where this will take us and the other generations to come.”
Different demographic groups tend to use their phones differently: Young smartphone users, minorities and lower-income Americans are more likely to depend on their smartphones for internet access, while people whose household income is less than $30,000 are often smartphone-dependent, according to Pew Research.
No doubt, many students at Worcester State University are part of the smartphone trend sweeping the world, and many students have confessed that they cannot live without their cell phones. Managing smartphone addiction isn’t easy. But it’s important to try.
I think it’s important to generate a difference between smartphone dependency with smartphone addiction. Smartphone dependency is necessary with the growth of technology in the contemporary world whereas smartphone addiction is a failure to manage that technology. We shouldn’t note how students have confessed that they cannot live without their cell phones because you really can’t if you want to be productive. We need them to text our coworkers, check the occasional email, call our parents. It’s just the way we connect these days. There’s no reason to try to kill that, It helps to be able to call someone with the push of a button or maybe Google something we need for school or work. We should be focussing instead on addressing how long we can and need to be on our smartphones and how to accommodate for in person and online communication.