Textual Health: Three Reasons Why Our Smartphone Society is Getting out of Hand

By: Jennifer Macko, University Health Center, Peer Educator; University Recreation & Wellness, Fitness Instructor

smart phones

Smartphones are great. You can navigate a road trip, discover the best Thai cuisine in town, answer urgent work emails, check the weather before getting dressed, and consult Next Bus. The convenience is undeniable.

However, nowadays we push a fine line between appreciation and addiction to our phones. We can’t leave the house without them, we say we feel “naked without them”, we even get ghost vibrations, thinking our phone is notifying us even when it’s not.

Smartphone addiction is getting ridiculous. Here’s why:

The anxiety from texting is real.

We’ve all spent ten minutes crafting a text, worried about conveying our message with just the right amount of exclamation points and emojis, when it would have taken one minute to pick up the phone and call.

We use it to replace face to face interactions.

Our smartphone society tells us it’s okay to get to know a romantic interest over text rather than over dinner, or to text a friend to get the scoop on her new job rather than meeting up. When we have what probably should have been a face-to-face conversation over text we lose out on moments to really connect with friends old and new.

It’s hard to interpret meaning and tone over text.

“He put a period at the end of the message instead of an exclamation point. Do you think he’s mad at me?” Sound familiar? Miscommunications and hurt feelings happen unnecessarily when we misinterpret the tone of a text.

WE NEED AN INTERVENTION!! I went without my phone for a whole month. Here’s what I learned:

  1. The sun is shining and I appreciate it so much more when it isn’t just a glare on my screen that makes me turn up my brightness.
  2. Food tastes just as good even if I don’t Instagram it.
  3. You discover a whole new side of your city when you’re not using Google Maps.
  4. It doesn’t matter if Snapchat knows I’m having fun, as long as I am.
  5. All those times my mom said, “put it away” at the dinner table… she had the right idea.
  6. You walk taller, smile brighter, and avoid collisions when you’re not staring down into your hands.
  7. Having the World Wide Web in your hands can make you forget about the amazing world around you.
  8. But I did really missed silly texts from my mom…

The key is balance!

You don’t have to give up your phone completely like I did, but do consider how you can use your smartphone without missing out on real life. Now is the time to ask… Do I need to put this entire concert on Snapchat? Am I actually feeling the music? Will 20 Instagram likes make this sushi more real? Did I just miss half of this lecture checking my Facebook feed? Why are my thumbs twitching? Am I living my life through my smartphone?

I challenge you to make small changes in your smartphone use. Can you call instead of texting a friend this weekend to make plans? Can you leave your phone in your backpack for the whole lecture? It might be hard to break the addiction, but when we improve our textual health our whole lives benefit.

Need some more inspiration to put down the phone? Check out this video:

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