Are smartphones making us less connected?

Collegian Media Archive

It doesn’t seem to matter who you talk to. If you ask just about any student on campus what’s the one thing they can’t leave the house (or dorm) without, it isn’t going to be their textbook,  calculator or even car keys. It’s going to be their smartphone. 

These devices play a major role in our educational, professional and personal lives. It’s how I talk to my friends and family. I use my phone to keep up with the news and check social media. I even work on homework assignments on my phone. 

My phone keeps me in contact with people. If I need to know something, it’s right there and I can get an answer in seconds. Cell phones have changed the way we live our lives drastically over the last few years. I can hardly remember a time when they weren’t around. 

Now we are hardly ever without them, and accidentally forgetting your smartphone at home is cause for panic. I’ll forget my drivers license before I leave my house without my phone. 

Personally, my phone is never more than a few feet away. It’s by my bed when I wake up in the morning. It’s right there in my backpack while I’m in class. I take it absolutely everywhere with me. 

It’s always nearby just in case someone needs to get a hold of me. I hate missing the chance to talk with friends when they text or call. I feel disconnected and left out when I do. 

Most of the time I don’t even notice how prevalent cell phones are in my life and the lives of those around me. They’re everywhere, a natural part of the scenery. The smartphone’s constant presence is normal. 

It is normal to have my phone on me all the time. It is normal to sometimes feel phantom buzzes from it, when no one is actually texting me. It is normal to check it every few minutes, just in case I didn’t hear it. 

This is normal, so it’s OK. Or at least that’s what I thought. 

For the longest time I didn’t realize how much my phone took up my time. Looking at my phone usage, I realized I spent hours a day just on my phone. At one point, my daily average screen time was around five hours. That was obsessive. 

 I didn’t realize how much it affected the way I interacted with people. 

My phone is the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing before I go to sleep. 

There are days where I spend more time with my phone than with people. There are days where I spend more time surfing the internet and scrolling down social media than with my own family. 

Sometimes I’m in the same house as a family member, and I’ll text them for something I need instead of just getting up and finding them. 

When I’m out with a friend, often what ends up happening is my phone rings and I break up our conversation to look. It’s just a few seconds, but it’s a few seconds where I decided that my device is more important than the friend sitting right in front of me. 

Our connections to our phones, that constant bond of always being within reaching distance, is unhealthy, an obsession. Often, constant phone use is so normalized that we don’t even realize how much time we spend on our phones or how it affects our relationships with those around us.

Sometimes our cell phones don’t bring us closer to others, but instead push us apart. 

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