We put so much value on mass communication and being able to be in the know how of everything that is going on in the world that we forget what happens to our brains when we get caught up in all of it. More specifically the invention of the phone and eventual upgrade to the smartphone is what set the stage for a complete reconfiguration of the way people lived their lives. It has only been about twenty years or so since the first smartphone was created in the 90s and it has taken the world by storm. Today almost everyone who can afford a smartphone, has one. Our social behaviors have changed in the past decade and have immensely changed in the last twenty to thirty years. The technological advancement and innovation of the smartphone has brought much efficiency and convenience, but it has also brought changes in our sleeping patterns and changes in how we communicate with each other.
Using smart phones have brought upon loss in one of our most important human functions, sleep and or healthy sleep. Studies show that most people use their smartphones before they go to sleep and this in turn causes the brain to receive blue lights emitted from the phone screens which alter sleep patterns or our circadian system. According to research, we take in blue light more in the morning where it peaks and we take in red light more in the evening. Disrupting this normal cycle by adding more blue lights into our eyes causes us to find it harder to sleep. It also disrupts our REM sleep which we need in order to receive proper sleep when we do sleep. The problem that arises here is that we keep the smartphone by us when we sleep which in turn doesn’t let us rest until we fall asleep due to exhaustion. Researchers even say that when our phone is turned off, it may still emit these blue lights that signal our brains to stay awake. Young people and adults are mostly affected by this since they are the ones with the highest ownership within our population and in turn they grow up with less sleep. In John Medina’s, “Brain Rules”, he dedicates a well written chapter to the function of sleep. In it he states that “ the loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, memory, mood, logical reasoning, and even more dexterity.” The loss of sleep as a result of smartphone usage is detrimental to one’s health. Hence, smartphones have had a huge affect on our sleep.
Since the turnover to the first widely commercial smartphone, we have become more connected with social medias and the internet in every way possible. This fact utters a truth on how our communication has changed dramatically. We have become soulless in our efforts to broaden our communications with each other. The smartphone has turned us into zombified people that have no idea what goes on in our surroundings when we are using it. We bring our smartphones everywhere we go. We bring it to dates, hangouts with friends, family events, to the dinner table, even to the bathroom. We are stuck to it and for some people, completely attached to it that if they had their smartphone taken away from them for more than an hour, they would start to panic at the thought of not being able to know what going on within their phones. We can communicate through emails, text messages, instant messages, blogs, social media, calling, etc. This is how vast our communication has expanded and all of those things mentioned before can be accessed through the smartphone. After interviewing both my mother and a friend of mine of the same age on how they felt about smartphones, their responses were as thought, completely different. My mother stated “it’s destroying how we interact as a family”(Rojas, Interview). Not only do I have a smartphone but so does my dad and my mom. She even said “it doesn’t allow for people to talk even with they are right in front of each other”. She is for and against the smartphone as she realizes that it’s useful in her life as well as in other’s lives but its detrimental in the way we interact with each other. On the other hand, my friend stated that “ the smartphone is too cool and fun to use that it doesn’t matter how it affects me” and he also said “ I’m too connected with everyone I don’t understand how that’s a bad thing”(Rivas, Interview). With one side of the spectrum completely denying its negative aspects and the other accepting both its uses and its downsides, we can see the disparity in the perspectives by our society on smartphones.
The smartphone is a marvelous innovation and its purpose is practical and useful to our everyday lives. Its features aid us in our everyday endeavors. It allows us to chat with our friends, families, anyone, it can let us surf the web with ease since all the information is at our fingertips. We can play mobile games and read books on our phone screens. The best part of this is that you can use its features anywhere, as long as your battery is not close to dying and that you have service you can do anything on the phone. It seems almost perfect for anyone to have and use because it has benefits that anyone could use. However, with all of this, the smartphone has more negative aspects than positive. Convenience is not the most appealing thing when smartphones cause you to become socially isolated from the rest of the world. A group of teenagers sitting around hanging out will mostly likely consist of them checking their phones periodically instead of staying in verbal conversation. You can walk down any street in most developed nations of the world and you will most likely see someone holding a smartphone in their hand and they will be fixated on it. The smartphone has most of our society hooked on its addictive features.
With the dawn of the new millennia, smartphones started to take rise in popularity. Its functions and utilities have given it high reputations as being one of the most monumental inventions in human history. It’s like holding a computer in the palm of your hands with the basic phone features included. We have become completely starstruck towards smartphones and we have fallen victims to its addictive qualities and useful features. Smartphones have caused us to not socialize in person more because we’re stuck looking at the visual screen waiting for it to feed us more and more bits and pieces of social media. We’ve become hooked to the smartphone and it’s causing too many changes in our social behaviors, our brain chemistry, and our sleeping habits. Should we change the way we go by using smartphones? Will we realize that sticking by and using this device will only further our path into becoming more brain dead and more robotic in our behavior. Of course, we should not advocate for a complete ban on smartphones, but we should consider a change in the way we live with our smartphones. Whenever we’re with friends or family we should put it away and divert our full attention to the people we are with. We must not submit to the numbing of our brains that is caused by the smartphone.
“How Do Smartphones Affect the Brain?” About.com Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.
“How Smartphones Change the Way We Live.” Mysms Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.
Khazan, Olga. “How Smartphones Hurt Sleep.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 24 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.
Olga Rojas. Interview. Mother. 46. December 15, 2015
Randy Rivas, Interview. Friend. 18. December 16, 2015