by Travis Braasch
It may be hard to believe that there was a time without cellphones; a time where children would walk to a friend’s house to see if they wanted to hang out, rather than send a text message. Times have changed with the evolution of technology, but the outcome isn’t what some may have expected.
According to the National Consumers League, 56 percent of children between the ages of 8 to 12 own cellphones and use them regularly. Not only do many young children have unlimited access to cellphones, but 21 percent of children age 8 or younger own smartphones.
With the waves of violence in schools the past decade, it isn’t unusual for parents to want to be in contact with their children in case some horrific event unfolds. Cellphones allow parents immediacy to contact their child without going through the complicated school channels.
However, despite the obvious logical benefits, cellphones have caused just as much harm to younger generations than most may realize. From cyber-bullying to sexual harassment, cellphones opened the doors to different worries for parents.
Teenagers seem to rely on their cellphones to do everything for them, from help with schoolwork to networking with friends. It is now easier than ever. The problem is that cellphones have somehow enabled teenagers to become lost when trying to do anything for themselves. An example would be a simple problem of addition or subtraction that can’t be executed without the dependency of a smartphone.
This may stem from the fact that parents have given their children phones at younger ages than ever before, thus becoming reliant on phones earlier. This doesn’t give them the chance to grow up and learn how to process information for themselves. Like all technology, cellphones break and it’s amazing to see how lost some become when they cannot Google an answer for their homework assignment.
The most damage cellphones have created for the younger generation is their inability to verbally communicate in-person with their peers, affecting their confidence in social situations. Many teenagers strictly communicate through text messages, about 60 per day according to the PEW Research Center, and over a two year period the rate rises to over 100 per day. Although the quick messages are handy, it seems that almost all conversation has been compacted to little words on a screen. The art of communication has digressed to a text.
There are no more conversations between human beings in that generation. This fact became obvious during a session of job interviews conducted with people that averaged the age of 18. They couldn’t seem to hold a schmoozy conversation. Many young teens out of high school avoided eye contact with their interviewer and played with their hands because they were not used to communicating with their voice. Some wouldn’t even look up when asked a simple question about their work skills, and mumbled responses at the table.
It became all too clear during a session of job interviews conducted by yours truly with people that averaged the age of 18.
As a manager of a local pizza place, it was clear in their awkwardness that they couldn’t even hold a simple conversation for a position in customer service. Most avoided eye contact, mumbled and played with their hands. No confidence. No communications. It is like talking to an empty shell of a human.
This shows how cellphone addiction has crippled our youths’ skill to communicate, which can harm their future.While cellphone use has allowed for communication, at some point even created a sense of safety, they’ve taken away from human interaction. It’s made our future leaders completely reliant on this piece of plastic and metal to function in almost any capacity.
Instead of buying an 8-year-old the latest smartphone for Christmas, perhaps the parents could enthusiastically settle for a bike, tell their kid to play outside and be creative. This technology has the power to rob them of their function to think and socially communicate.
Braasch is a reporter and is concerned about the progression of technology dependence.