By Tava Hoag
Picture this: you are strolling across the main quad on campus and you see kids walking with their cell phones, not talking to each other but rather totally immersed in the world of technology that they hold in their hands. You realize that there is absolutely no face-to-face human interaction going on whatsoever. And then you wonder to yourself, “Whatever happened to a time when conversation meant more than reading “Yik Yak” or when happiness meant getting a cup of coffee with your best friend instead of checking Facebook?” That answer is a lot more simple than you think: cell phones happened.
Many people today are questioning whether cell phones are advancing communication skills or destroying them. As of right now there are more cell phones than people in the U.S. according to a study by the trade group CTIA, the Wireless Association. Cell phones in use have paved the way for social connection but have also interfered with human interactions that lead to intimacy. Recent studies conducted by the Journal of Behavioral Sciences concluded that young adults on average send 109.5 text messages a day and check their phones up to 60 times in a single day. That’s far more times combined than you do the basic necessities of life in a day’s time.
Scott Connery, a high school English teacher at Clinton Senior High in Clinton, says his daily observations of cell-phone use among students have led him to draw some conclusions about how technology is affecting their interactions.
“In my opinion cell phones have created an odd combination of connecting students on a surface level, but alienating them from any real, meaningful connections.” Connery said.
“They have instant access to friends through their phones/social media and think that commenting on a page or “liking” a friend’s status means something, yet in reality they will walk right by a friend in obvious emotional need because they are too busy on their phones.”
“As for my use, I am on my phone a ton, at least 20-30 times a day. It shouldn’t be that hard to put the phone away, it’s okay to use it but do so in moderation. My best advice is to know when something is important and to just have the willpower to put the phone away until that important task is done.”
In the Washington Times, Dr. Rick Nauert, an expert in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare, suggested in response to Dr. Jeremy Siegel that the increased usage of phones is creating what is referred to by experts as a “Narcissist Generation”, meaning that there are people who believe that their thoughts are so important that they are constantly sharing them with everyone, which is a rather unhealthy way to behave.
Exercise sports science major Gretchen Segelhorst seems to think this is unhealthy, “Cell phones most certainly stunt the growth of integral human communication skills, not to mention have ruined common etiquette,” Segelhorst says. “By communicating via text the people in our generation are allowed to hide real emotion, put a conversation “on hold” by simply not responding, and even send rude/hurtful messages with less guilt than if it were to be said in person.”
“Cell phones can also be a distraction while you are actually having a face-to-face conversation with someone. It’s a rare occasion that you don’t come across two people talking, without one person becoming distracted by another person texting them, or by an incoming email.”
“If I am busy doing something or talking to someone, the phone can wait. That’s why we have cell phones, so that people can reach us when they need to and we can respond when needed or when the time is right.”
Communications major Shaunna Lizek seems to disagree with both these points of view.
“I think that cell phones help instead of ruin communication,” Lizek says. “When you’re in college, you are preparing yourself for the real world and you need your connections so cell phones are a great way to help you make those connections. Everyone you meet has some sort of electronic device that they use to communicate and students need to be ready for that.
“My point is, stop worrying about ways to get rid of or cut back on cell phone use.” Lizek continued. “Stop treating them as a curse on human kind and see them for their true blessings. Cell phones have been created and will never cease to have been created so don’t reject them, rather accept them for both the positives and negatives and use this incredible innovation to your best advantage. But more importantly, don’t forget that no matter how much it has helped you communicate it can never replace the magic and quality of the real thing.”