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How phones impact people (and why it's our generation's responsibility to change things)

How phones impact people (and why it's our generation's responsibility to change things)

I love my phone for so many reasons. I can see my friends in different time zones when we talk. Stay on top of my calendar. Track my husband and my spending. Capture my dog chasing her tail. Share my dog chasing her tail with my mom. Navigate to the newest coffee shop. And pay for parking when I get there. But, as the saying goes, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. And I often think about whether that’s where our generation is with our phones.

We spend 62 hours on our phones per week (Journal of Behavioral Addiction). And all of that screen time makes us feel lonely (Journal of Preventive Medicine). Sherry Turkle, a leading psychologist and sociologist at MIT, summed up how our phones impact us when she said, “we avoid the vulnerability of being who we are through presenting who we want to be in posts, tweets, chats, emails, and texts (TED).”

Taking a social media hiatus or getting a simplified phone isn’t the solution because our phones aren’t the problem. Avoiding the vulnerability of being who we are is the problem. And the solution is creating opportunities for being who we are by agreeing on rules/guidelines/new culture around our phones. Should we make phone checks (like coat checks) a thing? Ask for social media limits based on what studies have concluded is healthy? Create a holiday for in person convos?

The generations before us have created rules/guidelines/new culture around the technology of their time – beepers, answering machines, televisions, emails. It’s our turn. What do you think we should do? Tell us in the comments.

Written to contribute to Plywood People's conversation on loving disruption.