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Ben Swick (Young People with Smartphones)


Professor Rebecca Morean
English 100.20
20 April 2015
Get Your Face out of Your Phone
Have you ever told someone an incredible story with so much detail and expertise
only to find out he or she was not listening because they were on their phone? You poured
your heart and soul into that story, and the only response you get is Wait so what
happened again? This seems to be a common theme in society today. Although most
people believe smartphones make people more connected, by looking at the research and
statistics, it is clear to see smartphones actually decrease social interaction, make it harder
to talk to people face to face, and can even become an addiction if we are not careful. All
of these things lead people to believe smartphones are making people less connected than
if they were not used at all.
My Phone is More Important Than You
Smartphones are everywhere and seem to decrease social interactions. Everyone has one
nowadays and those who do not feel like they are missing out. On a college campus,
smartphones can be seen waiting in line in the dining halls, in classes, in the library, on
the elevator, and almost anywhere else. Some times they are used as an excuse not to talk
to other people. If someone is in an awkward situation where they do not know anyone,
the go to in todays culture is to look at your smartphone. Scott Campbell is an assistant
professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan. He says, Cell phones
can close people off, but also help them connect with the world around them. He shows

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there can be a good use for smartphones when used properly. He also says, The
technology itself is not good or bad, it is how its used and who its used with
(Campbell). What he is saying is the smartphone itself is not bad, but the way people use
it today can be detrimental to society. When people use them as a scapegoat or to waste
the time away, it can harm society by harming human interactions. In a personal
interview with Scott Swick, he said this about human interactions in the past; Before the
smartphone, people had to ask for directions when they were lost. They had to go to the
bank to cash a check, make conversation with strangers on a bus, or just let your mind
wander. Today, you can accomplish these tasks on your phone, so there is not as much
interaction among people. This shows the side of smartphones that might be seen as
harmful. Of course, it is more convenient to cash a check on your phone then get in the
car and go to the bank. But is it worth the trade off of establishing a great relationship
with another human being? Some people might argue yes, but other research begs to
differ.
Where Did The Time Go?
One of the reasons why smartphones are harmful to social interactions is because of the
time spent on them. According to a recent study on bizreport.com, the average fifteen to
twenty-four year old spends one hour and fifty-two minutes per day on their phone. This
adds up to thirteen hours per week and twenty-eight days out of the year. To put this into
perspective, it is roughly eight percent of the year spent on a smartphone. Imagine all of
this time was spent on something productive such as learning a language, reading a book,
or building a relationship with another human being. Being on a smartphone isolates
people from those around them.

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The book Studying Mobile Media by Larissa Hjorth, Jean Burgess, and Ingrid
Richardson focuses on the IPhone in particular. It talks about how the IPhone is a cultural
movement, and people in the current teenage generation are the ones pushing it. They
might not realize this right now, but they are promoting the use of smartphones. No other
generations have had this much smartphone use. Some of these teenagers do not know
any better. They do not know what the world would be like without technology at your
fingertips. They are not to blame because it is the world they were born into. According
to researchers from Business Insider, one out of every five people in the world have a
smartphone, and this number is growing rapidly. The amount of time people spend on
their phones every day is astounding.
Smartphones are the New Drug
Many people in society are showing signs of being addicted to their smartphones. In a
Business Insider article, Marcello Ballve reports smartphone owners check their phones
150 times per day. This time is spent between apps, texts, and other utilities. Researchers
form the Boston Medical Center studied smartphone users at a local restaurant to see how
much people were actually using their phones. They reported one-third of people at the
restaurant used their phone constantly throughout the meal. Seventy-three percent
checked their phone at least once. A daughter was trying to get her mothers attention
who was on her phone. The mom actually kicked the child underneath the table and told
her to wait! They reported an overall negative response to people using their smartphones
during mealtime.
Lookout.com conducted an online survey about smartphone use. Seventy-three
percent of polltakers reported they check their phone at least once every hour. Ninety-

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four percent said they are worried about losing their phone and seventy-three percent
claim they would panic if it were lost. This poses the question of if smartphones have
become an emotional attachment. Parents might panic if they lose a child, or an animal.
But if someone panics after losing their phone, it is almost as if the phone is a living
thing. Joey Cosco, a writer for Business Insider, wrote an article about his experience
losing his smartphone. He lost his phone one weekend in San Francisco and knew he
would have to go the whole weekend without it. It turns out it was too expensive to
replace it and he could not find. He decided to get an old flip phone until he made enough
money to buy a brand new smartphone. His experience on the bus and at lunch became
very different with his new phone. He said, I stopped reaching in my pocket during
awkward silences and made friendly small talk with strangers for the first time in my
life (Cosco). He met some great people on his commute to work every day. By talking
with these strangers, he learned many things and became a well rounded human being.
Had he still owned the smartphone, he might not have met such great people and had
such informative conversations. This shows how an addiction to a smartphone can be a
very negative thing. There is a risk when using a smartphone. You risk meeting certain
people like Cosco did. It just depends on how you use it and if it becomes an emotional
attachment for you. When used properly, it can be very helpful. But when overuse and
addiction come into play, it is detrimental to society.
People or Phones?
Not only is smartphone use harming oneself, but also it can be harmful for face-to-face
interactions with other people. When using a phone, you have time to think about your
response and edit your words. When speaking to someone in person, your words just flow

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and you cannot delete. Dr. Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician in Boston, states, We know
from decades of research that face to face interactions are important for cognitive,
language and emotional development. She knows from experience that these face-toface interactions are vital for people to live in the world today. You cannot go a day
without speaking to another human being. Children who learn to speak with others more
comfortably will develop quicker emotionally. Their language will come easier and they
will have a way with words. Because of the importance of this development, it is startling
that so many young people struggle with these face-to-face interactions. Smartphone use
may be the problem with this. People are getting smartphones at younger ages. The
parents think they are doing their children a favor, when in reality, they are harming their
development. If more and more children are using smartphones, they will be less
comfortable having a real conversation with other people. It will be detrimental in the
long run.
In the book Moving Data about technology, Arthur C. Clark describes technology
as magic. He says most people do not understand it. When these young people do not
understand how technology works, they might also not comprehend how it hurts them
when they use it too much. When texting, people have time to think and react to the other
person. It is very hard to show emotion through a text. It is very easy for people to
misinterpret the emotion you are trying to get across. Sometimes, this can be very
confusing, and miscommunications are common. Because of this, we see that cell phone
use, especially smartphones, can harm human relationships.
Didnt See You There

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In Lynne Trusss book Talk to the Hand, she discusses how people have bad manners
because of their phones. When someone is on their phone, they ignore everyone else in
the room. They cannot focus both on their phone and on what is happening in the room
because it is impossible to multi task. People are unaware of their surroundings when
using their phone. I conducted my own experiment based off of The Invisible Gorilla
by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons to test this hypothesis. I went in front of a
class of about thirty students. I had the class get on their phones and look up certain
information on them. While their faces were buried in their phones, I had another student
dress up in a pickle costume, and walk across the front of the classroom and sit back
down. When I told them to stop, they all looked up at me. I asked them if they noticed the
man in the pickle costume walking across the room. Not a single person was aware of
this gigantic pickle in the room. This proves that when someone is on his or her phone,
they cannot see anything in the room or pay attention to anything else other than what is
in their hand. This is why texting and driving is so dangerous. Because people are
unaware of their surroundings when they are on their phones, it is very rude to use them
with other people present.
The world is becoming more attached to technology than people. As a society, we
need to disengage and come to terms with the fact that these machines cannot give us the
same feelings as people can. If we do not change our ways with smartphones, we might
miss out on many things in life. We are all going through life together. Life is short; we
might as well spend it with those around us who mean the most to us. Someday, when
you look up from your phone, your parents will not be there. Do not miss the time you
have together with your loved ones.

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Works Cited
Allison, Sheila. Youth and the (Potential) Power of Social Media. Youth Studies Australia
32.3 (2013): 69 MasterFILE Main Edition Web. 22 Apr.
Ballve, Marcello. "How Much Time Do We Really Spend On Our Smartphones Every
Day?" Business Insider Australia. N.p., 05 June 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.
"Cell Phone Addiction: Parents Glued To Smartphones Have 'More Negative' Interactions With
Their Kids." International Business Times. N.p., 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.
Chabris, Christopher, and Daniel Simons. "The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our
Intuitions Deceive Us." The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive
Us. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.
Cosco, Joey. "Here's What It's Like Trying To Live Life Without A Cellphone In
2014." Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 13 July 2014. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.
Goscicki, Claire. "Study Discovers How Cell Phone Use Affects Social Interactions." The
Michigan Daily. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.
Heggestuen, John. "One In Every 5 People In The World Own A Smartphone, One In Every 17
Own A Tablet [CHART]." Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 15 Dec. 2013. Web. 22
Apr. 2015.
Hjorth, Larissa, Jean Burgess, and Ingrid Richardson. Studying Mobile Media: Cultural
Technologies, Mobile Communication, and the IPhone. New York, NY: Routledge, 2012.
Print.
"Mobile Mindset Study." Lookout Mobile Security. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.
Perlow, Leslie A. Sleeping with Your Smartphone: How to Break the 24/7 Habit and Change
the Way You Work. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review, 2012. Print.

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Snickars, Pelle, and Patrick Vonderau. Moving Data: The Iphone and the Future of Media. New
York: Columbia UP, 2012. Print.
Swick, Scott. Personal Interview. 10 October 2014
"Time Spent Daily on Social Networks up from 5% to 12%." - Mobile Marketing. N.p., n.d.
Web. 22 Apr. 2015.
Truss, Lynne. Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, Or, Six Good
Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door. New York: Gotham, 2005. Print.