Author Archives: Kevin Rojas

Are Smartphones Ruining Our Lives?

         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?” 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

The Boy Who Would Never Stop Looking Up


The Boy Who Would Never Stop Looking Up

        My name is Kevin Rojas and I am a student at New York City College o f Technology. I am following a path in the mechanical engineering field. My desired goal is to someday work at NASA, designing rockets and or space shuttles that go up into space. Becoming an astronaut would be a huge plus. My fascination with space has always followed me in my life. I’ve always had a habit of looking up at the night sky not knowing what to make of it until I eventually decided to invest in a better way of staring into the unknown. From acquiring my first telescope, to watching meteor showers, to eventually visiting the Kennedy Space Center, my curiosity with space intensified.

        When I was younger I always stared up at the night sky blankly without any idea of what I was staring at. I just knew that there some kind of attraction to the dark void that hovered all over us. I learned all of the star constellations, location of planets, and directions of where far off galaxies or other celestial bodies were. I always tuned in onto shows like Cosmos or NOVA and sit there glued to the tv. My friends would always talk about their favorite cartoon shows from when they were kids, and don’t get me wrong, I have some of my own as well. But I like to remember these shows about science and to a greater and major extent, space more than then the cartoon shows because I feel a greater importance and value behind the knowledge I acquired from watching them. I was about nine years old and my parents noticed how much of a space-obsessed kid I was by then and decided to thankfully reinforce my curiosity and they bought me a telescope. It wasn’t all too fancy or big, but it was enough for what I wanted to see back then. Its lenses power was strong enough to see Betelgeuse, a decently far away star. But the telescope finally allowed me to see far into space and see the beautiful astronomical bodies in more detail. I was in awe when I first peered through my telescope on a crisp and clear October night. From then on I would routinely use my telescope almost every week on Friday nights. Of course, whenever there were special events such as eclipses or comets, I’d watch them too. Now I have upgraded to a more advanced and fancy looking telescope that has a powerful lenses, which allows me to see really far. Thus, acquiring my first telescope helped my fascination with space grow even more.

        Only two years after getting my first telescope I already had seen most of the constellations and planets in our solar system or at least I thought I did. My friend who also shares the same interest as me at the time told me about the idea of watching a meteor shower. At this point in time, I knew what meteors were and that there are events where they would fall down to the earth and scatter all around. But I had already missed the past two meteor showers due to unfortunate coincidences of having to do other things. However, once my friend told me about the one coming at the end of the summer I had to plan everything out where I wouldn’t miss it no matter what. Now with watching a meteor shower you also need a good location where there is little to no light surrounding you. Hence, my parents decided to take me to the Poconos where we have a cabin to stay in in the forest. I brought my telescope, which was a newer model compared to the first one I got and I was ready to watch the meteor shower.  I knew that to some people watching something like this might be a waste of time since its just debris of an outer space rock falling to the Earth, but I like to see it that it’s an astronomical phenomenon that we are lucky to witness as a species. Once there, it was already nightfall and I quickly set up my telescope next to the car not waiting to miss anything. I peered through the telescope and immediately saw the meteors streaking across the night sky. I was mesmerized at the sight. I wouldn’t look anywhere else but up at the sky through my telescope. I counted more than twelve meteor like fragments entering our atmosphere. Standing there I realized that I this is what would define me as a person. The love for what is up in the dark void we call space is something I have and would like to grow more and more of through experiences like these.

        The Kennedy Space Center is a place of much respect and high caliber.  It’s the location of NASA’s launching sequences and to the general public where the rockets or space shuttles lift off into space. It’s the closest I’ve ever gotten thus far in my life to witnessing the whole NASA experience. I luckily got to go here when I went on a cruise to the Bahamas. I knew that the ship would stop down in Florida so I had already had my parents buy the tickets before hand. Once we stopped in Port Canaveral we immediately took a shuttle bus to the center and arrived there really early in the day. It was a pretty hot day and once we entered the center there was a full blast of the AC.  Once I was inside the facility I quickly became a kid at a toy store. I laid my eyes on every old decommissioned space shuttle or rocket that was on display.  I also ventured into the zero gravity rooms where you could experience a weightlessness sensation in a zero gravity chamber. The moon landing exhibit was the most exciting part in my opinion. It really made me feel like as a species we’ve come a long way. It was an inspirational experience because humans went from hunting using sharp sticks to engineering large scale rocketships and exploring space. It was at this moment that I had figured out my true purpose or desired goal in life. I would like to ultimately experience what Lance Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went through during their expedition to the moon. I knew that a pinnacle moment in my life would be achieving this and I never felt so determined on anything in life as much as I did that day.

Space is such a beautiful collection of things in all of existence. Our planet Earth is a mere speck in the luscious ever expanding art that is the universe. Exploring the whole universe would take an infinite amount time. Of course, if one were to explore the whole universe it would be impossible due it growing. However, we’re getting farther and farther away from our planet. Either through humans going up there or sending highly advanced rockets, we’re advancing technologically speaking and I’m excited for the future as to what I’m in store when I work for NASA. Studying here at City Tech, I believe this to be my first stepping stone of many to come. With working at NASA as my final step in goals that I’d like to achieve, I have to make my own correct path that I see fit in order to reach it. I must not lose hope and focus on the main goal. Hence, I believe that I will make it to NASA.