The Morse Code

In the age of cell phone addiction, how can we move forward?

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   When was the last time you checked your phone? If you can’t recall when it was last out of reaching distance, admit to yourself this likely classifies as overuse. Cell phone addiction, defined as excessive phone usage that begins to wreak havoc on other areas of life, can often be observed among cell phone users. Remaining stationary and spending a daunting amount of hours scrolling harms both physical and emotional health. While not everyone suffers from cell phone addiction, we all know someone who does or can admit to falling victim to an uncomfortable amount of overuse.

    Cell phones are already so integrated into our society that it’s nearly impossible to eradicate their overuse. For many, it has become a repetitive habit that might be done subconsciously, and like most habits, is very difficult to break. Becoming accustomed to being constantly connected leads to a mindset that promotes dependence on cell phones. According to a 2016 study by Common Sense Media, 72% of teens feel the need to immediately respond to the notifications they receive on their phone, and 50% admit to having phone addiction. For some, it is out of necessity, but for others, this priority is fueling the habit of constantly checking, scrolling, checking again, and keeping the perpetual cycle going.

    Having access to the entire internet and a myriad of tools in the palm of your hand makes it difficult to imagine having it be taken away. Many people do view their phone as a necessity, especially when it comes to staying in contact with potential employers, family, and other important contacts. Communication is vital in this day and age, and the ability to communicate with someone merely feet away or halfway across the world in seconds is a great benefit. However, many, notably students, have taken this a step too far by making a habit of using phones in classroom settings. According to a 2018 study by BankMyCell, 67% of teachers have observed students being negatively distracted by their phones. This cuts away from learning time and understanding of the material, and contributes to the usage that leads to detriments in mental health.

    The same study also found that an alarming 90% of teachers claimed that the number of students with emotional issues has risen dramatically with the rise of cell phone use. This rise in anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem can partially be credited to excessive social media usage and comparison to peers. With the remote research platform dscout finding that the average user touches their phone over 2,600 times a day, with heavy users reaching upwards of 5,400 touches, it is obvious that our usage can be much greater than anticipated.

    Students can see that their overuse of cell phones is harming their physical health, causing them to remain stationary instead of getting up and moving around. Alongside a drop in emotional health, it’s difficult to see a method of reversing this. The first step to controlling the issue is to promote self-discipline. While it may seem daunting at first, making goals and sticking to them, or at least attempting to, is a healthy way of promoting a productive relationship with your phone instead of a negative one. Think about whether or not you really need to use it, and if using it will promote procrastination. Resist the urge to check it every few minutes, unless you are expecting an important message from someone who is a priority. Unnecessary phone use during homework is something all students fall victim to, but if you’ve hit your productivity cap for the day and it’s time for a well-deserved break, spending a set amount of time on it can aid in relaxation.

    While we cannot erase cell phone addiction, creating personal methods and goals to have a healthy amount of cell phone use, typically no more than a few hours a day, can considerably change the negative effects that have become an unnecessary part of our lives.

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