Are Smartphones Making Us Dumber?

The reason for my lack of photos in this week’s post/lack of posts lately is because last Friday I lost my cellphone (an LG Lucid 2 smartphone).  On Thursday I got a new phone in the mail from Verizon-which means I made it six days without a cellphone.   And boy, was it amazing.

Disclaimer:

Smartphones are great – with them, you have most basic social networking functions all in one device- texting, calling, e-mail, in addition to music and games.  You can access internet from just about anywhere in the world, which means you can get information almost instantaneously. Similarly, mobile technology is really the center of innovation these days and smartphones are getting more and more sophisticated (and inexpensive) with each passing day.

I’m not a huge fan of smartphones to begin with.  I got one for the first time about 6 months ago and still didn’t use it that often compared to my friends.  Even still, I found a huge change in my lifestyle when I didn’t have one for nearly a week! Why you ask? Without a cellphone, I had:

  • An abundance of time: I didn’t waste time checking text messages, facebook, instagram, or e-mail throughout the day.  This left an immense amount of time for other things including homework, self-reflection, reading new books, etc. In this time without a cellphone, I finished a book called Penpal, which I highly recommend!  I am now reading A Trip to the Stars by Nicholas Christopher, which is good so far too.
In the 15 minutes before class when I get there early and have nothing to do, rather than check my phone, I would work on homework, read a few more pages of a book or just sit there and think….which is a vastly underrated concept for young people these days.  What’s wrong with just sitting down not checking your phone? This is all explained in this viral video; Comedian Louis C.K. in an interview with Conan O’Brien, describes what is wrong with smart phones.
  • Boredom (the good kind):  Now I could try to explain what I’m thinking, but this CNN article explains my thoughts perfectly. I recommend reading it, or you can read what I’ve captured from it here:‘When you’re habituated to constant stimulation, when you lack it, you sort of don’t know what to do with yourself…When we aren’t used to having down time, it results in anxiety. ‘Oh my god, I should be doing something.’ And we reach for the smartphone. It’s our omnipresent relief from that.’ Researchers say this all makes sense. Fiddling with our phones, they say, addresses a basic human need to cure boredom by any means necessary. But they also fear that by filling almost every second of down time by peering at our phones we are missing out on the creative and potentially rewarding ways we’ve dealt with boredom in days past. ‘Informational overload from all quarters means that there can often be very little time for personal thought, reflection, or even just ‘zoning out,'” researchers write. ‘With a mobile (phone) that is constantly switched on and a plethora of entertainments available to distract the naked eye, it is understandable that some people find it difficult to actually get bored in that particular fidgety, introspective kind of way.'”

In the video shown above, Louis C.K. describes this boredom/loneliness is what makes us human, and taking that away is what leads to texting and driving.

  • Freedom:  Without a cellphone for 6 days, I was no longer required to answer every single person who tried to contact me on every social media platform. Instead of texting my friends asking when/where they wanted to eat dinner, we set a time and place at breakfast then met again at dinner without communicating between meals.  In this short period without my phone, I realized I don’t really need to communicate with people throughout the day via text messages or social media apps like snapchat or facebook.  The people that really matter will update me on the important stuff in their lives when I see them in person.
    So many people  in my classes are on their cellphones, and I think some Cornell Professors could learn a lesson from reading this article. At the end, the author describes a trick that a colleague used to bribe students to stay off their cellphones during class.  The professor would offer an increasing amount of extra credit on the final if no students used their cellphone in class all semester.  But if one person violated it, everyone loses the extra credit. Interesting concept…

Unfortunately, I had to get another smartphone despite the greatness of not having one for nearly a week.  Why? Because your basic flip phone or blackberry doesn’t always have a nice camera, if it has one at all.  Being a Life on the Hill blogger, I need to keep you all happy with good quality pictures!  In order to stop myself from using my phone too much, I’m limiting myself to only one page of apps on my phone, free of mindless games and extreme time wasters, as shown here:

 

While writing this post, I found a lot more articles online about why smartphones are bad rather than why smartphones are good.  While their benefits seem obvious, their drawbacks are not. Next time you feel the urge to reach for your phone, stop and think about why you’re picking it up.  Is it because you’re bored? Or do you really need to use it?  Otherwise, you could probably be doing a lot cooler things with your time.

2 thoughts on “Are Smartphones Making Us Dumber?

  1. Great Lauren so true about our phones we all need to just take it easy and enjoy nature when we are outside and not always be on our phones. Please send me your address when you get a chance I want to send you a package for Halloween! Love, Aunt Kathy

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