Smart Phones: Friend or Foe? A Closer Look at Addictions

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Contributing authors include: Marjorie Newton, Nick Tate, and Laura Campbell

13265-smartphone-addictionWith the nonstop improvement in technology, people today are faced with new addictions to their smartphones and tablets. Whether it’s constantly texting, Face Timing, viewing social media, or binge watching Netflix, it is affecting everyone. A large group that is especially affected is college students. Our MassComm class and team MALN partnered with BUnow to dig deeper into smartphone addictions by interviewing four Bloomsburg University students.

The first student we interviewed seemed to be addicted to her smartphone. As many of us are probably addicted in some way, her addiction stood out more than other students. During the interview, when asked if she was addicted to her smartphone, she answered, “Yes, for sure” and there was no hesitation in her answer.

She said she uses her smartphone for two main things: which are taking/looking at pictures on the Internet and social media. She said that in the past her main use was texting but it has since changed. She also said that when she was 19 and got her first smartphone, she used to send pictures more instead of looking at them on the Internet. She would do what people now do with SnapChat but would send the pictures through text messaging instead.

When asked if she ever feels like she needs to use her phone she said, “Whenever I’m in uncomfortable positions or when I’m not doing anything I feel like I need to be on it.” She also said she uses her phone when she’s with others rather than socializing. When asked how often she checks her phone she said, “Very often. Even when I know there’s nothing new to see on there I still check it.”

A junior music major at Bloomsburg received his first smartphone at 18, but didn’t start using it heavily until college. Smartphones-Are-a-Pain-in-the-Neck-Nomophobia-is-a-Real-Disease2He uses his phone mostly when he wakes up and when he’s going to class. The apps he uses most are Tumblr, Twitter and the texting app. Aside from apps, he uses his phone to check his email, call his family, and as a metronome while practicing. He only uses his phone in front of others if everyone else pulls out their phone. If everyone is doing nothing and just standing around, he will pull it out just to have something to do.

He claims to check his phone every 30 minutes, but also more frequently to check the time. When asked if he’s addicted to his smartphone, he said, “Mildly, but not in a way that I’m twitching for it if I haven’t checked it in a few minutes. When I’m bored, I use it, but when I’m entertained I don’t. When I’m waiting around for something, I’m on it then, so I guess you could consider that mildly addicted.”

There are some students who feel that constantly using their smartphone isn’t as big a deal as people make it seem. Cydnee Bence, a junior at BU who uses her phone all day believes, “the smartphone is just a new way of socializing. I hate when people say that smartphones have turned people into zombies.”

Bence does a lot of things on her phone, but what she uses it for most is to keep in contact with people, especially those at the two jobs she works and her family. She uses FaceTime a lot to get in touch with her family, who is scattered all over the place.

“I could FaceTime with my grandma who lives pretty far away and get a cooking lesson from her.” Bence would rather socialize with people than have her face in her phone, but she feels that using her phone as much as she does really isn’t a big deal.

A senior communications major says she is regretful about using her phone. When she is out with friends who are all socializing and eperson on smartphonenjoying each other’s company, she catches herself, “… not living in the moment with her friends.”

She, as well as most college students, got her smart phone when she was in high school, so she has developed a dependency toward it. She uses it daily for everything; texting, calling, social media, alarm clock, weather apps, music etc. When asked how often she checked her phone, her answer was, “probably every five minutes, I’m so bad with it. I’m not contacting anyone and I’ll still keep checking.”

However, she doesn’t only see the bad in her smartphone use; her best friend moved to California and having a smartphone and all its abilities allows them to stay connected and close.

As we dug deeper into smartphone addictions and what makes students so addicted, there are almost equal amounts of good and bad in the habits. Students have become so dependent on smartphones, not only for socializing but for time management, balancing their work and school schedules, and staying updated on the latest news all over the world.

It’s definitely important to live in the moment and not be buried in your phone, but it’s also wonderful having endless sources of information and entertainment right as our fingertips!

This article is one of several in a series on smartphone usage at Bloomsburg University. This series was conducted as a BUnow editorial partnership with Dr. Ganahl’s MassComm research students. Smartphones are steadily becoming a large part of student life, both on- and off-campus. We aim to study this integration, as well as uncover trends in the ways Bloomsburg University students use their smartphones. We hope the information we discover will be of use to the Bloomsburg population, and that this information will help us all gain insight into how we use our smartphones.

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