Keep chin up, phone down

Traci Edwards

Where are you right this second? In private or public? If you are reading this in a public place, take a second to look up and observe. What do you see? What’s everyone doing? How many cell phones can you count? That is what I have been doing for the past several months. Every time I am in a public place I observe.

I take my daughter to school and every parent, aside from me, is standing there waiting for the bell to ring with their noses in their phones while their children look around aimlessly appearing bored. My daughter and I chat, I tickle her, I teach her, we laugh and I enjoy her company for the last few minutes we have together before our days truly begin.

It has become evident to me that the cell phones we cherish are a substantial distraction from the people you would think we’d cherish more. If you find yourself disagreeing, remember that actions speak louder than words. They are not only a distraction from our loved ones, but also a distraction from overall human-to-human interaction.

I am almost always early to my classes and each time I arrive I sit, and I observe. Roughly 90 percent of the students I observe before class have their eyes cast down at their cell phones. I look around to see whom I can say “hello” to and eight times out of 10 there is no one around to meet my eye contact.

Is your cell phone a distraction to you? If your answer is no then you are simply in denial. Even if you are aware of cell phones taking away from your environment, I guarantee there is time you spend on your mobile device that could be spent more productively.

Go back to your childhood for a moment and imagine what you would feel seeing all the adults around you paying no attention to what you want or need. Everyone, even teenagers are on their cell phones interacting virtually, but no one offers time for you. Instead, they buy you devices of your own to prevent you from interrupting the time they spend on theirs.

The problem is so serious that some state governments have had to pass laws regarding something as simple as our phones: people cannot text and drive because it has literally killed thousands. Our nation experiences roughly 1.6 million accidents a year from texting and driving, and 330,000 of them cause injuries. Eleven teens die each day from texting and driving. Do you see now? Eleven teens — just children despite the fact they are licensed to drive — lose their lives every day because our society is allowing technology to take priority over livelihood and safety.

A study from Brigham Young University examined how technology interferes with relationships and concluded that technological interference may not only be damaging to your relationship, but to your psychological health as well. Many partners who were interviewed during this study revealed that when their significant other gives their cell phone attention, ignoring them, it hurts their feelings and contributes to them feeling unhappy with their lives.

We all need to use our phones to some degree. making important calls or responding to time-sensitive e-mails. But many of us aren’t completing imperative tasks when we allow ourselves to be distracted — rather we are engaging in leisure activities or social interaction virtually. Maybe, just maybe, those games and notifications on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat and those text messages can wait.

Your relationships, your health, and your overall environment will change dramatically if you choose to change your relationship with technology. It could even cause a chain reaction. Chin up, phone down.