By Sanjana Bhatla | Opening Doorz Editorial | June 01, 2021

Albert Einstein once said, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Even after all these years, his quote still stands as true—we cannot imagine our lives without technology today. 

Mobile phones (one of mankind’s most phenomenal creations), is a big reason for this. This small portable device has taken over our lives, and why shouldn’t it? A device the size of a pocket has the power to connect people across the world, call and text people separated by seven seas. It also helps you find anything under the sun within seconds. It is becoming an inseparable part of our lives. 

Pros and cons of a mobile phone

However, mobile phones too, have their disadvantages, especially with teenagers who go overboard with their use. To begin with, mobile phones encourage one to be a social recluse. Although mobile phones have the power to connect people across the globe, they also hold the power to disconnect people sitting in the same room. Mobile phones are great sources of entertainment—you can watch shows, text friends and even play games. Now that such entertainment is easily accessible to teenagers, it encourages them to replace physical activity with screens. Overuse of mobile phones in the formative years of a teenager’s life can impact them severely later, encouraging poor communication and social skills. 

Because mobile phones can provide such entertainment, they are also sources of distraction amongst teens. This is primarily because apps and web content is created to be as addictive as possible. That irresistible urge to open a notification the second it pops up, or to scroll mindlessly through feeds sucks one away from reality and a sense of time. Himashi Mehta and Rishit Gupta (both Class X students) are in consensus that if you use a mobile phone, you should work that screen time into your schedule. Their classmate, Aditya adds, “You should find the time that suits you best for studying and use your phone after that. This way, it will not hinder your studies.” There are teenagers who have fared badly in exams because they never found the time to study. Their phones were their constant companion. And when the results arrive, there are tears!

Social media, in particular, is quite distracting; not only does it provide a platform for teens to meet one another, but it also acts as a reliable source of validation. This severely impacts the mental well-being of teenagers. They also end up spending endless hours across various chat platforms.

Teenagers and mobile phones
Connecting to disconnect from reality.

Peer pressure to own a mobile phone

Often, due to peer pressure, students begin to feel left out if they do not have a phone. Maya Singh, another Class X student feels this way. “I find it childish that I have to constantly ask my mother for her phone if I ever need to talk to my friends. I would like my privacy and autonomy,” she says. Adya Malik and Saatvik Chaudhary, also Grade X students, however, do not share the same sentiments. “I share a tablet with my brother, so that keeps me entertained. I use my mother’s phone to talk to my friends,” says Adya. Saatvik seconds her thoughts adding, “I use my father’s phone. Since he is not home during the day, I am not distracted from my work, and use his phone in the evenings. This way, I am consciously limiting my time spent on a mobile phone which can distract me from my studies.” 

Not only do mobile phones cause problems with one’s mental health, but also one’s physical health. Screens cause strain on the human eye, causing redness or irritation in them. And although it’s controversial, most scientists agree that the radiation emitted by phones carries a risk of brain cancer. Mobile phones are also carriers of hundreds of germs, given that they come in contact with all sorts of surfaces throughout the day. 

The other side of a mobile phone

For parents, this device is also a tool to manipulate their children to do their bidding. This is problematic in itself and also poses an inconvenience for teens. Since their parents use the phone as a privilege that can be taken away at any time, teens are under constant pressure to make sure they retain this privilege. This is good in a way because children then learn to value time and a few days away from the phone as punishment gives them a fresh perspective. Reading habits that have been abandoned immediately take the place of mobile phones!

Having said that, there are certain advantages for teenagers with a mobile phone; firstly, it allows them to contact their parents during emergencies. This also gives a sense of security to the parents who know that they can connect with their child anytime when they are away from home. But then again, if a child is going out, there can always be a spare at home to carry and this way parents can be in touch. In the end, it all boils down to moderation because a mobile phone has its advantages and disadvantages. If used judiciously, mobile phones are indeed very helpful to mankind. But as they say, excess of anything is bad. 

But try telling this to a teenager who is addicted to the handheld device. However much parents may scream at them for overuse and the benefits of rationing the time with their phone, most fail to see reason.

Also Read: Into that heaven of freedom my handset, let my mind awake!

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