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The side effects of smartphone syndrome

Apple debates parental controls limitings phone usage

Michaela Mass, Online Editor

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“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” – William James, a renowned psychologist who studied the relationship between the mind and body.

One hundred years have past since James spoke this insightful quote, yet it appears as though the world has since forgotten this discovery. In today’s industrialized society, technology has been permanently imprinted into our daily lives, resulting in a drastic shift in the mindset of our generation. This radical transformation has caused many to question the effects on children of one of the most used devices – the smartphone.

While this technology has brought the world much good, people still raise alarm to the long-term effects of electronic devices on youth. According to The Atlantic, teen rates of suicide and depression have skyrocketed since 2011. This mental health crisis is on the brink of being the worst in decades. As these rates of mental health issues increase in teens, so does smartphone ownership and usage. Many of these issues in youth can be traced back to the smartphone, which is seemingly glued to our palms.

Recently, two of Apple’s largest investors, California State Teachers’ Retirement System and Jana Partners, wrote an open letter to the company concerning these issues. These investors, who collectively own $2 billion in stock, asked Apple to create more parental control on future iOS updates. They requested for parents to be able to limit screen time, block social media sites, and more. Investors also asked Apple to establish a committee of child development specialists to oversee the increase of mental health issues with annual reports regarding children who use their devices.

According to Time, 18-24 year olds check their phones an average of 74 times a day. These numbers only increase as time continues. This astronomical amount of smartphone use causes physical and mental issues, as well as interferes with students’ education. All of this leads to the next generation being even more psychologically vulnerable than those before it.

Smartphones enable easier access to social media, which has greatly changed the mindset of society. Rather than marveling at one’s own happiness, an instant comparison is created upon viewing another’s post. This toxic state of mind has led to an increase in eating disorders in youth. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, the growth of media usage is indeed a variable in the problem.

Even I have been exposed to the dangerous effects of social media. All of which led to the deleting of my accounts and taking long breaks away from the world of likes and shares.  Slowly, the online world consumed my free time. Rather than enjoy the blissful moments of my life, I found my eyes locked on the screen: immediately when I woke up and right before I went to sleep.

I began to automatically compare my life to those that I viewed through screens. This greatly diminished my confidence, which is detrimental for any teenager. Now, I focus on the world that I view offscreen. I cut my time on my smartphone and started old hobbies of mine once again, such as reading and painting.

These investors have a right to take interest in these issues and press Apple to initiate change. Apple is so vast and touches so many lives that these investors are not just simply investing in a company; they are investing in the next generation.


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The side effects of smartphone syndrome