Luke GearhartMr. YaggiHonors English III19 January 2018Smartphones: The Never Ending Debate In 1992, a mobile device called the Simon Personal Communicator was introduced.  Five years later, this technology was renamed the “smartphone,” which propelled humans into the smartphone based society of today (Smartphone).  Since the introduction of smartphones, humans have developed a psychological attachment to their devices, a term recently coined no-mobile-phone phobia, or nomophobia (Stone).  The use of smartphones has become a controversial topic in recent years.  Some experts argue that people should not use smartphones because they have negative mental and social effects. On the other hand, proponents of these devices argue that humans should use smartphones because they are an effective communication tool and they increase productivity.Opposition to  these devices assert that humans should not use smartphones because they lead to harmful mental effects.  Aric Suber-Jenkins, reporter and writer at TIME and Fortune on technological issues, writes in an article regarding neurological effects of smartphones, Likewise, a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland’s International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, found that people who were asked to stay away from emails, text messages, Facebook, and Twitter updates for 24 hours developed withdrawal symptoms typically seen in smokers attempting to give up smoking. Indeed, emerging research suggests that the same neural circuitry in the brain is involved in response to rewards obtained from seemingly benign repetitive behaviours such as exercising to more problematic behaviours such as gambling and substance abuse.  This research suggests the applications most commonly utilized on smartphones —  social media, email and text messaging — can employ the same biological neural networks activated in physical addictions like substance abuse.  With 21st century technology, humans seek instant gratification through smartphones.  Recently, this technology has become more and more accessible to everybody, causing smartphone addiction to become increasingly prevalent in today’s society.  When people live without their device for even a short time, twenty-four hours, the study reveals they can show similar withdrawal symptoms to substance abusers. This information is significant because the brain is rewired during addiction and takes a great amount of time to return a normal, unaddicted state. Also, the addictions mentioned in the article such as smoking and substance abuse are harmful to people because people go to extreme measures to use the object or substance that they are addicted to, which can cause them to act irrationally and differently than normal.  These behaviors can negatively impact an individual’s professional lives as well as strain personal relationships.  Smartphone addiction presents a dangerous risk for individuals to take because it affects the wiring of an individual’s brain so that s/he/they feels that they cannot live without their device.  Unlike illegal drugs and cigarettes, smartphones can be taken and used anywhere, which can make the addiction even more harmful than others.  Just as smartphones have been proven to have mentally addictive qualities like cigarettes, they also impede humans socially. Humans should not use smartphones because they have negative social effects.  According to an interview with Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor of Social Studies of Science and Technology with over twenty years of research on the behavioral impacts of technology, Turkle states, Eighty-nine percent of Americans say that during their last social interaction, they took out a phone, and 82 percent said that it deteriorated the conversation they were in. Basically, we’re doing something that we know is hurting our interactions.  I’ll point to a study. If you put a cell phone into a social interaction, it does two things: First, it decreases the quality of what you talk about, because you talk about things where you wouldn’t mind being interrupted, which makes sense, and, secondly, it decreases the empathic connection that people feel toward each other (Suttie).  Technology has taken the place of regular conversation in modern society.  Turkle stated that “Eighty-nine percent of Americans say that during their last social interaction, they took out a phone.”  The interruption of devices eliminates the intimacy of conversations.  Some things that are compromised when using a phone in a conversation are eye contact, quality of conversation, and the connection to what is being said.  Humans thrive on the sense of belonging.  All they want is to be recognized and know that what they say is being heard, but the constant distraction of the smartphone prevents this desire from being fulfilled.  Even though the issue of smartphones contains a negative side, they also present an upside. People should use smartphones because they increase productivity.  An article discussing a Pew Research study touches on the use of smartphones and social media in the workplace: Humans should use smartphones because they serve as a beneficial communication tool.  According to an NYU research essay named “The Impact of Smartphones and Mobile Devices on Human Health and Life”, author Leonid Miakotkol states, “According to USAID, mobile devices have following impact on the society… 93% of female mobile phone users feel safer with a phone; 85% feel more independent; 41% use their phones to increase their income and professional opportunities” (14).  Analysis:In conclusion, smartphones remain widely used and accepted; however, concerns exist about the major drawbacks of smartphones.  Opposition to smartphones stems from findings about the negative mental and social effects of the new technology.   Despite these drawbacks, smartphones provide increased productivity as well as access to simple communication.Samsung recently teamed up with Frost & Sullivan to survey 500 managers and executives working at companies or government organizations in the U.S… The results are remarkable: Respondents report that as a result of using smartphones to get work done, they gain nearly an hour (58 minutes) of work time each day and nearly an hour (58 minutes) of personal time each day on average, and see an estimated productivity increase of a whopping 34 percent.

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