Phones are hurting relationships

Senior Libby Lazzara uses her phone in a Lincoln hallway last year. Phone use among teens is hurting personal relationships and increasing levels of anxiety.

Smartphones have changed the world. Advanced technology is at our fingertips, allowing us to contact someone immediately. However, the rise of iPhones has restricted interpersonal relationships. This sort of isolation has increased anxiety amongst teens.  

Before the times of texting and social media, communicating with others more often required face-to-face interaction. Today, however, we live in a society where much of our interaction comes through phones and other electronic devices.

Freshman Logan Berry has noticed the effect phones have had on the amount of time kids spend interacting with each other in person.

“I communicate with people over the phone all the time.  I do think this impacts the amount of time I spend with people in person.  I will interact with anyone over the phone, but in real life I usually only talk to my closest friends,” Berry says.  

Senior Nathalia Leon has also noticed changes in the way kids are interacting, and fears that this will lead to consequences down the road.

“Kids nowadays are ’hanging out’ with friends, but through some internet connection like skype, facetime, texting, xbox live or something else that is through a server.  I do think this will damage their behavior in the future,” she said. “I predict they will become antisocial, for lack of a better word.  People need physical contact and presence of others to accurately form meaningful relationships.”

This raises the question, why is it important to sustain personal relationships?  Health teacher Timm Goldhammer recognizes an aspect of close connection that is lost through modern technology.

“When a student has a tough day, many say they turn to their phones to be alone. In the past, it seems they turned to a friend, teacher, counselor or trusted adult for support and guidance.”

Goldhammer concludes, “Feelings and anxiety issues are not resolved on smartphones.  Connection is lost.”

Statistics support the angle that Goldhammer is coming from.  According to an article in The Atlantic, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011.  The current generation is commonly referred to as having the worst mental health crisis in decades. This is all in correlation with the rise of technology, suggesting that isolation caused by smartphones is resulting in depression and anxiety.  

Other studies also stress importance of personal connection.  According to American Psychological Association, scientific evidence suggests that high quality, close relationships – not over texting – are associated with decreased risk of mortality. By contrast, social isolation and relationship discord are risk factors for poor health.

Excessive cell phone usage is leading to mental issues amongst teens. While there are upsides to modern interaction, we shouldn’t sacrifice the health benefits of close relationships that arise from face-to-face communication.