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Put down your phone, please ;-)

Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001
Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001

I was at a restaurant the other day. Across the room a girl snapchatted her meal and, before long, the rest of her group were seduced to the addictive blue light of their phones.

With more and more everyday occurrences being accessed digitally we are living our lives through screens and ignoring social interactions. I would not be surprised if the majority of neck problems these days were caused by the strain of looking down at our devices.

The constant notifications and messages are making us crave checking our phones. Whether it’s a text, a news story about Kim K, or Apple’s new MacBook we are addicted to updates. This addiction for new things all the time impacts on our concentration but more importantly on our relationships.

How often do you see a group of friends having coffee and all of them are preoccupied with technology? Or how many times do you turn on your electronic device and automatically check Facebook? Digital media is controlling us without the realisation that the world is not going to stop and realistically the only thing we missing are our neighbour’s update on their dog’s new Santa suit.

Mental health issues are at an all-time high with more than one-in-three teens suffering from anxiety or depression according to the Department of Education. There is a rise of 10% in the past decade, leading experts to call it a ‘slow-growing epidemic.’

There are numerous examples whereby rises in these issues are a result of social media. Studies show that the less time children spend on social media, the happier they are. A report from the Office for National Statistics revealed that 27% of children who spend three hours or more a day on social media have symptoms of mental ill-health.

Sherry Turkle, an American Professor of Science and Technology, describes our current societal state as being ‘Alone Together’. This intriguing concept draws us in because of the obvious irony. Turkle argues that digital media have both connected society but at the same time created a sense of alienation. This is so relevant and can be seen everywhere. People are separating themselves from reality and reducing their interaction with friends and family by choosing to connect with technology.

This could be very dysfunctional for society because not everyone is going to be able to keep up with the demands of technology. Economic issues do not allow everyone to have the most up to date iPhone or slick laptop so there will be some people who cannot conform and have the latest gadgets. Sociologists claim what they call, ‘anomie’ is created for individuals who financially cannot be included and feel isolated from the rest of society.

Now, it’s no secret that digital media is fantastic. Think of the endless opportunities it can provide and the many developments it has created. But we could use technology less. Instead of watching cat videos, play with your cat. Instead of sending a laughing emoji, have a laugh with your friends. It is more worthwhile. Trust me.

-- Izzy King is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds


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