Last Updated: December 21, 2017, 3:56 pm

Cell phone usage can be both harmful, beneficial


Here’s a challenge for you: Explain what a smart phone can do in just 20 words.

   This is not an easy task given the seemingly infinite applications of modern cellular devices. Your phone is your means of connection, your source of information, and, more often than not, the thief of your attention.

   Phones offer numerous ways of staying in touch with loved ones, said Jace Melessa, a senior biology major from St. George. 

   “I check my phone too often … [Without it] I could probably study more [and] get more things done,” Melessa said.

   Melessa’s statement was especially true for me when I was a freshman at Dixie State University. Having moved across the globe in pursuit of quality education, I absolutely needed my family’s support and would use my phone to contact them frequently via WhatsApp and Skype. Moving away to college was less intimidating considering that my family and friends were on constant standby in my pocket.

   Jesus Soto, a senior biology major from Michoacan, Mexico, said phones can be used efficiently. Soto said his phone helps him stay on top of things in school and is imperative for his business. 

   Phones certainly do simplify our lives, said Mark Marinch, a senior integrated studies major from Las Vegas.

   “If I didn’t know a definition of something, I [could] look it up and have the answer within five seconds,” Marinch said. “If I wanted to know direction to a place, I [would] have the answer to that in like 10 seconds.”

   As convenient as they are, however, cell phones tend to have a dehumanizing effect as they negate the need for human interaction. With apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Tinder, interpersonal communication no longer takes precedence.

   “Just walking to class, you’ll see everyone looking down at their cell phone instead of taking in the great day,” Marinch said. “They are so enthralled with their cell phone and what’s going on on someone’s Instagram post … they forget to live in the moment. I definitely fall victim to that, too.”

   Many students rely heavily on communication through texting and social media. Their phone may become the only source of their social interaction, which can be debilitating to their social skills.

   Robert Carlson, chair of the psychology department, said social media do not accurately reflect real-world interactions.

   “Online comments tend to be more extreme,” Carlson said. “People are more likely to offer outrageously good or outrageously bad comments. When we reach out too much and become too needy for feedback from other people … you can find so much of it … that can affect your own self-esteem and how you value yourself.”

   Students should be cautious about assessing themselves based on online feedback, Carlson said. Instead, they should focus on more objective criteria and try to incorporate their phones into accomplishing their life goals, he said.

   “A cell phone is just a tool,” Carlson said. “You can incorporate the phone into the class … (to) look things up (and) contribute to the discussion … But [your phone] can also be a source of wasting time and a source of getting caught up in some drama that is unhealthy.”

   This tool of ours is more powerful than the computer NASA used to place the first man on the moon, yet most of us were never taught how to use it responsibly. We were never taught how to handle excessive, often overwhelming, amounts of information about people and the world around us.

   With your desires only a few taps away, it is easy to overlook how quickly we become addicted to likes, comments, retweets and other forms of notifications. Many of us have experienced the so-called phantom vibrations — when you feel like your phone vibrated to notify you of something, when it actually didn’t.

   It is true that we use our phones to fulfill our needs, such as looking up information or reaching out to loved ones for support and advice. But we never hesitate to use cell phones to satisfy our wants.

   Take this article for example. I used my phone to schedule appointments with the sources, record our conversations, and to look up AP guidelines to properly format the article. At the same time, I got distracted by my phone a minimum of 10 times while writing it.

How do you use your phone? Tweet @DixieSunNews a screenshot of the most common thing you see on your screen.