Grow without the glow: Why you should take a “phone fast”


Photo via The Visor

Grace Rossi, Editor-In-Chief

Why read a book when you could read a comment section? Why listen to an album when you could watch all of the music videos on YouTube? Why take the time to analyze poetry when there’s an app for that?

Why not use your phone?

Because, as researchers are finding, phone use is hurting adolescents.

Back in yesteryear—2017—Children’s Hospital of Michigan launched a study that looked into how young brains react to technology. They monitored children with and without their devices.

What they found was concerning to say the least. In extreme cases, when technology was removed, executive function shut down; brain activity decreased; dopamine levels dropped below healthy ranges.

In short, their brains mimicked those of heroin addicts when they’re in withdrawal.

Even in less pervasive incidents of so-called “phone addiction,” teens struggle to develop properly. Researchers say that smartphones are the culprits.

With constant social interaction at our fingertips, teenagers nowadays are less likely to go out and create adult perspectives through their actions. There are no hard-learned lessons or grown up choices to be made scrolling through Snapchat stories. And when teens do go out, they’re more likely to spend that time on their phones.

While increased screen time in a controlled environment seems less dangerous than, say, the aforementioned drug addiction, the Clinical Psychological Science journal found that teenagers who use their phones for a majority of their social interactions increase their chances of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts.

If that’s not enough to sway you away from your glowing pocket box, then consider the fact that the Silicone Valley tycoons in charge of our friendly phone companies don’t let their kids use them. Instead, they send their children to technology-free schools and influence them to spend their time otherwise occupied.

Why, then, if the manufacturers of these products are concerned by the omnipresence of technology, aren’t we?

The answer to this question lies within our brains: specifically, our tendency to learn through example. Throughout adolescence, we subconsciously mimic the adults in our lives. We learn social actions by copying those of others.

When adults habitually use technology, we register that as healthy behavior.

How often has a teacher checked their phone during a break, or a parent texted while driving? How often have we done that?

In order to curb phone addiction, we must also comprehend deficiencies in our role models. It’s an uphill battle, even for the most dedicated anarchists.

Little efforts can help break the barriers that prevent us from improving our relationships with technology. Listening to music through a stereo, taking photos with a digital camera or leaving notes in friends’ lockers work just as well as any phone—and come with the tinge of individualism that Bitmojis and Instagram feeds tend to rob us of.

For the extremist, taking a phone fast—a long break from your device—could prove to be exceedingly beneficial. Even deleting your most-used social media app or going through an unfollowing spree could positively impact your mental health.

High school is catastrophic enough without the harmful effects of smartphones. The negatives associated with constant phone use outweigh any benefit that could be reaped. So why not unplug?