Cell phones: Give yourself a break from the screens

I hate cell phones. Always have and always will. Unfortunately, like many of my peers, my day-to-day life requires one at all times. My major requires me to stay in touch with sources, my academic life requires communication with professors and, being in a long distance relationship, it’s my sole lifeline to my partner.

Looking at my phone has just become another task to add on my daily to-do list, and I despise it. So whether I am a supporter or not of owning a cell phone, it’s become a necessity in my life, and not by choice. Due to the negative effects cell phones can pose, consistent timeouts from your cell phone is imperative for your mental, social and physical health.

A small observation I’ve made every time I have stepped foot in an elevator is, the majority of the time, I was the only one not looking down at their phone. Everyone else was either scrolling down their Instagram, on a phone call or choosing what song they wanted to listen to next. Why has this become the norm? But more importantly, why is this accepted?

According to a survey done by Common Sense Media, nearly 80 percent of teenagers said they check their phones hourly, and 72 percent said they felt the need to respond to texts and social media messages immediately. In the same study, 50 percent of teens said they feel addicted to their mobile devices.

Having an addiction to your cell phone can have a negative impact on communication skills, due to the fact they are being absorbed in a very solitary world. When your interactions become primarily through your mobile device and less through personal interaction, communication skills have the potential to fade.

Excessive use of your mobile device can cause an increase in your level of stress and negative emotions. You may not even notice it, but the constant alert of messages, phone calls, emails and notifications from social media can take a toll on your mental health.

Imagine having an intimate conversation with a friend and all they did was pick up their phone every time they got a notification. Be considerate of the other’s feelings, and remember, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t respond to that text immediately.

According to Pew Research Center American Trends Panel Survey, 54 percent of smartphone owners say their phone is “not always needed,” but 46 percent say it is something they “couldn’t live without.”

The study also showed that 44 percent of smartphone owners at some point had a difficult time completing a task because they did not have their phone on them. The largest group expressed that they had trouble navigating to a specific destination because they didn’t have their phone to look up directions or an address.

Aside from my own personal hatred towards cell phones, there is no denying they have major perks. Living in a big city requires a lot of navigating, whether I am driving or taking public transportation.

Cell phone apps make it possible to get around at the literal touch of a button.

Another thing to consider is that, on average, the typical person picks up their phone 46 times a day. Now, think about how 95 percent of phones have been proven to have evidence of bacterial contamination, according to a study published in the “Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials.”

When was the last time you made the effort to sanitize your phone? On a daily basis, the average person touches dozens of different things like door handles, elevator buttons, hand rails, chairs and the dirtiest of all, bus rails. Now consider how many times you touch your phone in between those moments. Gross, I know.

Taking a mini vacation from your phone, whether it be a day or even just an hour, can really make a difference socially, mentally and physically. The separation from something that really latches onto your focus could be that vacation you didn’t know you needed.

Go out and spend time with friends, but maybe this time don’t look at your phone. Watch a movie, or start a new show and put your phone on silent.

Give yourself a break and indulge on your surroundings. And for the love of God, sanitize your phone daily. Your immune system will thank you later.

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