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Smartphones’ Effects on People’s Social Lives

March 20, 2018

Between 2010 and 2015, the rates of depression among teens escalated by 33 percent, the rates of attempted suicide by 23 percent, and the rate who actually committed suicide by 31 percent. The cause, while it hasn’t been completely proven, is most likely the increase in smartphones’ dominance throughout day-to-day lives. But what’s even more shocking than these statistics is the oblivion everyone has about smartphone addiction. Only half of teens between 13 and 18 think they might have an addiction to their phone.

In an interview with Audie Cornish from NPR, San Diego State University professor of psychology Jean Twenge suggested that parents of teens are worrying about the wrong things. With the links between suicide factors (depression, thinking about, attempting, or making a plan to attempt suicide) and amount of cellphone usage, parents should be focusing on how much screen time their children are getting. Parents really should be curbing their children’s screen time if the teens can’t do it for themselves.

And with that, they should curb their own use of smartphones. In an interview on NPR, pediatric behaviorist Dr. Jenny Radesky created her own “study” — or observation moreso — of 55 parents and their kids while eating at a fast food restaurant. Of those 55, more than 40 pulled out their cellphones immediately or almost immediately.

Face-to-face interactions are one of the most important ways children develop emotionally and socially; when they are deprived of this opportunity because their parents are too busy checking email or scrolling through Facebook, children can lag behind in their development. According to Radeskey, the dependence on smartphones is causing parents to become emotionally detached from their children and their children resent it, acting out to catch their parents’ attention.

People of all ages are becoming increasingly depressed or unhappy, and while there are other possible factors such as

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genetic predilection, home trauma, bullying or other emotional traumas, smartphones are filling the number one spot. The best thing for parents to do, according to experts, is to delay getting your child a smartphone as long as possible. For teens, put the phone down and talk to your friends in person.


A four step guide to easing your nomophobia

  1. Have a weekly digital detox for yourself. For 24 hours once a week, power your phone all the way down — yes, that means ALL of the way. Don’t turn it on even to check your Instagram. It. Can.Wait. I promise.
  2. Designate “zones” in your house where no technology will be used. This could be the dining room, for example, so when you and your family sit down for a meal, no one even has their phone on them. You are free to talk amongst yourselves without distractions of continuous pings from your phone.
  3. Turn off all push notifications. Your brain automatically gets aroused from the sounds accompanied by notifications from texts, likes on Instagram, and messages on Snapchat. It gets to the point where it’s just waiting and begging for them to come. So turn this off, and turn your notifications off.
  4. Use other resources. If you’re reading this saying “Well, I use my phone for an alarm clock, so I really need it,” you don’t. Levi Hutchins didn’t invent physical, 3D alarm clocks just for decoration; and, they’re pretty simple to use. Same thing goes for calculators, wrist watches, flashlights, and timers. Your phone doesn’t have to fill all these functions.
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