CP Editorial: Put down the phone and engage in real life

We all have a few birthdays that stand out from the rest. For me it was my fourteenth birthday. The yellow frosted cake and dozens of presents meant nothing to me because I knew what one specific present was going to be: a cellphone. I’d been asking for it for months, and I just had to find it. After unwrapping every present except for a tiny little box, I knew this was it. From that day on, my cellphone became a part of me; it never left my side. You could almost say I became addicted to the devise. Five years have passed since receiving my first cellphone, and with those years have come observations and a change of heart; some would call it maturing. I no longer see cellphones in the same way.

I have always heard people talk about the disruption cell phones cause, but I never understood their thinking until a few weekends ago at my cousin’s wedding. While waiting for the wedding to start, everyone was sitting with their hands in their laps, busy on their cellphones. This was a time for friends and family to come together and celebrate marriage, but everyone was on their cellphones and not speaking to each other. The reception was fun, but could have easily been a blast if people had left their cellphones on the tables. A beautiful life event was disrupted by the use of technology.

Cellphones have been commercially available for 30 years now, but did not truly take off until the 1990s. According to worldmapper.org, between 1990 and 2011 there were more than 6 billion cellphones sold.

We now live in a world with 7 billion people. According to Global Mobile Statistics of 2013, 5.1 billion own a cellphone, while only 4.2 billion of those people own a toothbrush. Within the United States, the average age of first-time cellphone users is 12 to 13 years old. This is down from the age of 16 in 2004 .

Originally developed to speed up communication, cellphones have played a tremendous role in speeding up our daily lives. We are now able to instant message each other, use the Internet, capture and share videos and pictures all on our phones. Basically, we all carry around a miniature computer in our pockets, with even more capabilities than the basic computer.

Because cellphones are such a big part of our daily lives, many people become lost without the devices. Nomophobia, the fear of being out of contact with someone via cellphone, has become an increasing reality for people. The anxiety caused by not being with your cellphone is a sign of an addiction. According to TIME Magazine, which conducted a poll in 2012, 84 percent of respondents could not go without their cellphone more than one day. Psychologists are even starting to study cellphone use and its effect on people.

As a college student, I witness every day the distraction that cellphones can be. I have sat countless times in a classroom full of my peers who fail to listen to the teacher because they are on their cellphones. The sad part is, cellphones could be beneficial in a classroom setting. But, from my observation, they are most often used to play games or check social networking sites.

Beyond the classroom, cellphones can clutter the minds of professional workers, often hurting the workplace. Friendships can also be negatively affected by the use of cellphones. People become so engaged with their cellphones that they often lose track of their surroundings. Sometimes we become so preoccupied with whatever is happening on our little, handheld computers that nothing else is important.

While I would not want to give up the benefits of using this technology, there comes a time when we all just need to put down our phones. It’s important to spend time with others around us, as well as take time for ourselves, completely cellphone free

Madison Williams

About the Author Madison Williams

Meet, Madison Williams, a 19-year-old sophomore in the science and agricultural journalism program and a sister from the sorority chapter of Phi Mu at the University of Missouri. She hails from a quaint, rural town an hour northeast of St. Louis known as Litchfield, Illinois. Her passion for the science and ag journalism major came from gaining knowledge of public relations work while being employed at the Bank in Trust Company of Litchfield and also having relatives and friends who work in the agriculture business. She was previously a biochemistry major at the University but decided to switch when she realized her desire to share and experience journalism in a field that relates to the outdoors.