Smartphone Addiction: Just Turn It Off

Article by: Olivia R.

Edited by: Kody T.

Visual by: Kaye O.

Most modern-day students have a smartphone. These devices, normally not much bigger than a hand, contain worlds of information, multitudes of apps designed for schoolwork, and a plethora of time-wasters. Every student that has a smartphone recognizes its familiar pull when schoolwork begins to take a toll. Just five minutes, then I’ll work, we think. More often than not, we students put down our phones to realize an hour has passed.

But what makes smartphones so addictive?

According to former Google employee Tristan Harris, smartphones are designed for people to waste time on; after all, the more time you spend on Instagram means more revenue for the company. Harris states that the addictive qualities of smartphones are based on three features:

  1. Push notifications: these satisfy the social need of smartphone users, whether it be a notification from an actual person or a game.
  2. Color: notification icons are red because people have the greatest reaction to that color; people feel as though they are neglecting something important by not checking the notification.
  3. Endless feeds: In social media apps like Instagram and Facebook, the scroll-down to load more posts has the same addictiveness as pulling the lever down on a slot machine, giving an individual a sense of control.

While these features do make smartphones addictive, fixing these is simple. Turning off notifications, making the screen monochrome, and hiding apps with endless feeds are three easy ways to fix those problems. Despite these solutions, the average screen time on phones of people aged 16-24 is 3.8 hours a day (Time).

The major problem of smartphone addiction is that people know that this much smartphone use is unhealthy. Though people know the consequences, they still cannot put their phones down. I find this very funny: the first iPhone design was released in 2007, yet the smartphone has already become completely ingrained in our culture. (Globally, more people have access to smartphones than toilets!) It’s hard for most people, myself included, to imagine life without their smartphones, though mankind has survived thousands of years without them.

Smartphones have made our lives infinitely easier; maps, flashlights, and letters are a thing of the past. However, people should remember what smartphones are: they’re tools for increased productivity. This made me realize that all the distractions on our phones are unnecessary. Conversations in person better fulfill people’s need for social interaction, life is much prettier without filters, and the world is more interesting than a pointless game on a phone.

If the pull of a smartphone becomes too hard to resist, I have three words for you:

Turn it off.