Look Up! There is a Whole Other World…

By Jackson Ellis

It is hard to believe that just 40 years ago cell phones only started to come into fruition. When I look around today, I can’t find a place in my life where my iPhone does not play an active role. Who needs a map when I have a handheld GPS? Or a watch? Or even a credit card?

Smartphones can be immense assets. And as technology continues to advance, we will only see the role smartphones play in our life increase. However, there is a need to be weary, and this fact is all the more relevant to the younger generations.

For those individuals who grew up in the 1950’s, 1960’s, or 1970’s, cell phones were only beginning to emerge. However, as you move closer and closer to the new millennia, not only does the quality of the cell phone improve but also the shear number of individuals with a phone. The kids born in the 1990’s were the first generation of Digital Natives. And for those born in the 2000’s, smartphones and the Internet were not just trials; they were/are their tested toys (Smith 2).

The effects of this ever-increasing integration of smartphones into daily life are visible. Individuals, generation Z in particular, are so ingrained with these devices that they often become difficult to separate. It is increasingly likely that you will have your smartphone with you because there is always something: GPS, trivial games, a high-quality photo, a calculation, etc.

However, it is only when smartphones start interrupting or intruding on your everyday interactions that this becomes a problem. And it has become a problem.

It is a frequent occurrence for me to say something, receive no reply, and look over to my colleague only find them scrolling through their phone. This is a scary fact; the drive to create social capital and weak ties through social media is greater then creating a personal relationship with those around you. Repercussions of this fact include reduced ability to empathize, poor conversation quality, and a weaker connection (Przybylski, 1). As scholars continue to explore the influence of smartphones on human interaction, it is likely that more negative effects will be uncovered.

The trajectory of smart phone use is dangerous. According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 77% of Americans own a cell phone as of 2017. In 2011, this number stood at only 35% (Smith, 1). The evolution, adoption, and integration of smartphones into society is happening at faster and faster rates, and that is an undeniable fact.

If you still want to use your phone all the time, be my guest. But, if by chance, you would like to reduce your footprint, there a series of little things that help. Here is my personal list.

Tips to Reduce Phone Use

1. Wear a watch

How many times a day do you take out your phone just to check the time? At least a few, I would guess. And when you take your phone out to check the time, do you only check the time? Making changes that help avoid having your phone in your hand can be extremely valuable in decreasing phone use.

2. Set a length of time during the day that you will not check your phone

Actively designating time that you will NOT be on your phone helps build the habit. Setting 90 minutes aside of your day to disconnect can go a long way.

3. Be cognizant of scrolling through your phone “just cause”

Remember, it is okay to sit down and do nothing for a minute. There seems to be a stigma against doing so, but going through your phone is not the solution. Silence provides the opportunity to think and reflect.

4. Disable notifications (not for everything!)

Smartphones often send you meaningless notifications that work like loss leaders: they get you on your phone. Disable them!

5. Do not bring it to the bathroom

If you really want to break a bad phone habit, do not bring it to the bathroom. That is just idle time to waste on your phone.


1) Przybylski, Andrew K. "Can You Connect with Me Now?" Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

2) Smith, Aaron. "Record Shares of Americans Now Own Smartphones, Have Home Broadband." Pew Research Center. N.p., 12 Jan. 2017. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.