There is a problem that plagues our society, unresolved it could be our downfall, it challenges our future as a civilization. What is this problem? Our technology or rather our overuse of the technological marvels that we carry around with us every day, mobile phones. We’ve all heard the claims that phones can contribute to a reduced attention span but did you know that overuse can also lead to infertility and much more, or can they? Some would lead you to believe the answer is indubitably yes! But are they giving the full picture? Is it even possible that these issues are byproducts of our phones or are they really just the wonder and revolution in telecommunications that they seem to be?
One of the main reasons as to why some say cell phones are so harmful to our health is because of the emission blue light from the screens. Naturally blue light comes from the sun and it helps our brains regulate our circadian rhythms (our sleep and wake cycles). During the day blue light tells our brains that we should be up and about, increasing attention and energy levels. In this form blue light is harmless but it is when the light comes from an artificial source such as our beloved phones that it starts to cause real damage. Blue light reduces the melatonin in our brains, the hormone that regulates the amount and the quality of sleep we get each night. So, when we stare at a screen for hours, we force our body to cut back on the amount of good sleep we can get. So, when you’re staring at your phone at twelve thirty and say that you’ll go to bed in 5 minutes, then 5 minutes comes around and you just can’t manage to get yourself to sleep. This is because of the artificial blue light that is emitted off of your screens. now this doesn’t sound too bad, what’s a few rough sleeps in sacrifice of finishing that Netflix show? But when your body starts producing less melatonin over a period of time, it will then set these levels of as default naturally producing less, even if you stop using your phone trapping you in a sleepless cycle. This effect is greatly worsened if you’re a child as your body may never learn to produce correct amounts of melatonin if overexposed to screens. Another dangerous effect of blue light is that it can greatly reduce your levels of sight due to over exposure, a loss of central vision is a condition that is normally only linked to aging but the use of phones is contributing to increasingly poor vision at younger ages. It goes without saying that lack of sleep and loss of vision are both extremely harmful for the body so you have to ask yourself is that Netflix show really worth it?
Another reason as to why people call for the downfall of the cell phone is the effect that they can indirectly have on children and adolescents. Social media has become second nature to the world’s youth, with Instagram having over 500 million active users daily, 73% of people aged 13 to 17 having mobile phones and 24% of those saying they’re on them constantly. It has become somewhat expected that children will spend multiple hours just scrolling and scrolling. Now this does of course have effects on children physically that are somewhat similar to that of blue light but there are other psychological effects, deeper effects. Dr Donna Wick, a New York times best seller found that teens that are on their devices too much may be classified as ‘socially disabled’. This is because with adolescents being such a formative time in a person’s life, spending the majority of the interactions done by talking through their phones and being more comfortable communicating with emojis rather than sentences, it leads to some teenagers never learning the correct social skills needed to function in face-to-face interactions and not being able to pick up on certain facial expressions, body language or social queues. These effects are detrimental to the development of humans as this can render children paralyzed in fear in the face of situations that they find unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
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Although others will put their reputations on the line claiming that phones should be eradicated completely others wholeheartedly argue that they are nothing but technological wonders of the modern world. It is true that technology has progressed so far that we are basically carrying little supercomputers with us every day, that have the ability to unlock unlimited knowledge with the tap of a screen, and people are taking full advantage of this with 51% of British phone owners over the age of 18 saying that they use their devices daily to access information quickly when they need to know something right away. Phones, if used in the correct manner allow us as a race to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible, as we are spending less time working something out or recalling information and more time being on the task at hand. Phones also allow us to not only gather other information but to share our own in real time, a revolution from the years gone by where it would take an upwards of days to get a letter sent or to keep in touch with family and friends, as we can now transfer Full HD videos in a matter of seconds.
Nobody can deny the convenience that cell phones bring and nowadays kids will always be reminded by their parents how easy they have it because of growing up in an age centred around convenience. With phones being able to connect with each other in nanoseconds they can make almost every aspect of life easier from navigation and photography to running a business and online banking. Imagine a world without the improvements brought by the cell phone. It’s a dull and dreary existence having to do all the mundane tasks that are completely avoided by the use of cell phones, want to check your bank balance? That will take a trip in the car to your nearest bank, want to send a message to your loved ones? You’ll need a stamp, want to listen to your favorite artist’s new song? Better get a CD player. Almost every task, both business and leisure, is made far simpler and can be done in a matter of seconds by the use of this marvel of technological advancement.
Overall, there are many benefits that the cell phone brings us, but as with all good things it comes with a price, a price of sleepless nights and children never growing up with the proper social lessons they need. Do I believe this price is worth the paying? I wish I could give a definite answer, but with both arguments being very complex I think the best solution would be a compromise, lessen the use of cell phones especially that of children and adolescents, but still allow people to make their own minds up on how much time then spend on their devices. But if I were to be forced to choose between eradicating cell phones all together or letting things continue on their current path, I would have to allow cell phones to have an increasing presence in our lives. The overuse of cell phones does slow down our progress, as the human race our progress would be completely halted and reversed if we got rid of our beloved pocket supercomputers.