The Smartphone and Its Limits


Maleah Fennessey

Olivia Starr uses her phone on a school bench.

Maleah Fennessey, Staff Writer

In today’s world, smartphones are everywhere. Texts jump between devices, photos are uploaded to social media sites and questions are constantly googled. However, is there a downside to using these intelligent devices?

A survey conducted among 164 seventh graders asked what they believed their phones are mostly used for. A majority of them responded by voting for texts and calls (26.2%), with social media being a close runner-up (22.6%).  Very few of them said they didn’t have a phone.

With phones reaching the hands of people at younger ages, it’s difficult to not be exposed to the digital world. On average, according to, children get their first cell phone at age 10, and 50% will have a social media account by age 12.

In some ways, owning a phone is beneficial. Today, instant messaging allows you to speak quickly and conveniently. Smartphones allow you to perform the functions of a computer without the bulkiness.

It’s not uncommon for teachers to use smartphones in class. “…I think it’s a great way to keep kids engaged, and I really liked when we went to a museum,” says Ms. Phillips, a seventh-grade core teacher. She pairs smartphones with cardboard VR goggles to digitally take students to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. “You know, when you guys got to experience what the Holocaust [was], or what happened during the Holocaust, and how that really had an effect on the population at the time, and how it affects us now.”

But phones can pose a threat to our safety. An unassuming student might visit an exploitative website, or download an app containing an information-stealing virus. The internet also creates opportunities for cyberbullying.  Many people can see mean comments and even repost them. Often a bully will choose to remain anonymous, making them harder to find. 

Phones can also bring down our moods. According to Childmind, studies show teens who use social media are likely to have bad mental health and anxiety.

BlueTechLenses says that screens emit something called blue light, which can be healthy. It boosts your mood, makes you alert, and tells your brain when to sleep. Sounds harmless, right?

No. Not at all.

The site also says that using phones at night interrupts your circadian rhythm, the brain function that tells you when you should sleep, leading to insomnia. Overexposure can cause headaches and nausea. Lastly, blue light might cause retinal damage (damage to the part of the eye that focuses light so you can see). However, if people budget screen time, they can avoid these symptoms.

 But how much is too much?

Another question on the survey asked participants if they thought the world was growing too attached to their phones. 100 said yes, 6 said no, and 57 said maybe.

Perhaps one day we will stop phone overuse, and the world will look away from their screens and smile.