Could cell phones actually be harming us?

There is no doubt the world of technology changes with each passing moment.  If you think back even ten years it is amazing the difference in what we use each day to get things done.  Computers are an integral part of life now.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at what happens when you aren’t able to check Facebook for a day.  People get stir crazy thinking about the things that they are missing out on, whether it be drama, new photos of someone’s expensive vacation, or a new political cartoon to get fired up about.

Cell phones are by far the most widely used piece of technology today.  It has become so insidious that the very few teenagers without cell phones talk as if their arms are being severed from their bodies with each cell phone-absent- day.   I wonder, though, if all of this stimulation is actually harming us.  Maybe these things aren’t as necessary as we think.

Cell Phones Bring Us Closer And Tear Us Apart

The world today is so mobile that having the ability to chat with someone via Skype or Facetime is extremely useful.  Who doesn’t like to see someone face to face in a conversation over just talking on the phone?  Yet, as useful as that all is, there is a potentially negative side to it.  Take a look at any place where people are gathered and you will likely see a few different types of cell phone user.  The first group is the “don’t bother me, I am very busy” crowd.  They are constantly typing on their little smart phone and checking their watch.  Everyone once in a while they might look up or take a breath, but for the most part it is them and their little world.  To be fair, they are probably doing some work.    The second group is the “I have nothing to do, so I will stare at my phone” crowd.  These people probably brought a book to read or might even be traveling with someone  but they will mindlessly stare at their phones instead.  They might even read texts from the previous day just to kill the time. The third group is the “loud talker” group.  For whatever reason they still talk on the phone.  These are the people who will talk in their loudest possible voice and let you know everything about their impending legal problems.  The last group of people are the “I don’t have a smartphone, but I am going to stare at my phone anyway” crowd.  This is where I fall in.  These people check their phone for possible texts or maybe a phone call from someone about something important they need to be involved with.

My point is not that any of those are inherently bad.  What I am noticing is that people are very simply looking down a lot more.  When I travel alone this is very easy to do, but it shouldn’t be as easy when traveling with someone else.  It would be wise to at least acknowledge the people around you sometimes.  This makes me wonder if the constant cell phone interaction is actually bringing us closer to other people who are far away while we neglect the people right in the same room.

I got this

I have a 2-year-old in my home.  I know that even the most cleverly devised game or television show is not guaranteed to hold his attention.  There are many variables to that.  This is what I think so often is the result of constant cell phone looking.  With the onslaught of faster mobile internet speeds people are increasingly looking at things on their phones.  This provides a rather easy escape for someone who might be easily bored by people.  I know in youth ministry I could be talking with someone and they will be looking down at their phone.  It is as if we all need to be stimulated at all times or else we are bored.  I think this is harmful, not helpful.

Cell Phones Make Gossip And Slander More Acceptable

Twitter has made being in the right place at the right time worth the price of admission.  These days if you see something or hear something it is tweeted immediately.  If it is wrong, oh well.  With people that means there are comments made, pictures sent and just all around discussions happening that might never happen in the “real world.”  These personal gossip devices have made the spread of negative speech all the rage.  That does not appear to be a positive.

Now, look, I am not naive.  I know that there are so many other good things about these things.  I know how convenient it is to be able to post videos and pictures online for family to see in real-time.  I love all of those things and use them all the time.   I just think that if we don’t at least consider how we are using these things, we might actually be damaging the very people we want to remain connected with.

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9 comments

  1. This is just perfect!!! I like the way you have bought up the curses of technology that are not always obvious to all. Radiation harm to brain cells (still in debate), increasing infertility, eye sight or hearing issues due to prolonged use.. etc are kind of issues that are obvious and there are newer technologies being innovated to overcome these. But the socio-cultural impact it has is hidden and is rapidly bringing irreversible changes….indeed very beautifully highlighted.

    1. I guess there are a lot of things that could be going on. I do know that it has an impact on relationships. This might show up even more down the road. Time will tell.

  2. My daughter wanted to go out to lunch with me today. I asked her if she was going with me or with whoever was on her phone. My husbands new smart phone has him doing the same thing. It’s sad that we don’t fully engage with others sometimes. Well said.

  3. well put! When we informed friends that we no longer have cell phones…..they usually asked,”but how will we get a hold of you?” It was as if they couldn’t call us before we had cell phones…….I believe cell phone are a sign that we as humans are thinking too much of ourselves…. well written post, thanks!

    1. That is a good point. The need to be constantly connected is both a blessing and a curse. The real question is: do I need to be reached every minute of the day? No, because I am not as important as I think I am.

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