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By Shonah Mhene

Remember the last time you talking to someone while they were texting and in your mind were only hoping he or she was still paying attention. It’s hard to know whether the person is in an emergency and needs to respond to their text immediately, or that the person really doesn’t care what you’re talking about. How are people supposed to truly connect when teens are addicted to the newest device? Within the last decade there have been major changes in technology that will have a lasting effect on youth. Today they face constant pressure through media to keep up with the latest technology and it also can lead to a lack of social awareness, involvement and appreciation. Here are a few symptoms:

Isolates one from society

Everyone has seen or been party to a group of people being together while some of the members are consumed with their phones. Social gatherings used to be a time where people would enjoy the company they were with and the conversations that would happen. Today, whether or not you are with people, one’s night can be radically changed by what is happening on your phone. With advances in smart phones, one’s social needs can be instantly gratified. Yet, as one commentator has written“The main appeal of the iPod is that it preoccupies you so you are no longer obligated to interact with the uncontrollable factors of everyday life.”

Young people are bringing drawn away from direct communication and being more entertained by the virtual world. Instead of handling problems face-to-face, people are using their social networks/email to confront others about how they feel. This might lead to a certain communication, but it also seems to just be an easy way out for people needing to deal with conflict. As smart phones continue to develop with more of the latest and greatest software, society should not disregard their effects upon youth.

Just Got 2 Skool

Psychologists, teachers and educational reps have done studies on the depleting academic scores in high schools since the invention of mobile phones. Even when they are in school students are more involved with what’s going on with their phone, than what is being taught. Trying to be sneaky, students often use their phones in class to text, play game applications and surf the web. It might sound great that finally people are able to do this type of work from a phone, but because of this many regions show dramatic drops in grades and student interest.

As Katherine Shaw writes for Associated Content, “The primary concern is that cell phones distract students. Even though most schools require that phones be turned off during school hours, such a rule is difficult to enforce; for instance, students who leave class for a bathroom break could use the phone while out of the room. Cell phones are now so small that students can use them surreptitiously in class as well, particularly text messaging and video games. Should a phone ring in class, the entire classroom is disrupted–and teachers report that many students will answer the call.”

Not only are students becoming less motivated for school participation, the youth of today are forming a language-like code of their own. They simplify and abbreviate the English language to sound more hip and new. This has long-term effects that contribute to poor punctuation, grammar and spoken language.

“Many school boards have tried setting limits on cell phone use without banning cell phones completely,” Shaw continues. “Requiring that phones be turned off during school hours, confiscating phones from students caught using them in class, and requiring that phones be set to voice mail only have all had limited success. Some teachers are so frustrated with cell phone interruptions that they collect the phones at the beginning of class and return them as students leave.”

When students are more worried about answering their cellphones than their instructor there is a problem. The cons outweigh the pros when it come to cellphone use in schools and if more drastic steps aren’t taken to deal with the students using their phones in class, the educational system will have to adopt new learning styles involving the use of phones/internet.

Cell phones, in my opinion, are one of the greatest inventions, although as with anything you can take a positive invention and overuse it, revealing a negative side. The youth of today have been given the power of their social life at their fingertips and this has shown to be too great a privilege and will have many lasting effects. Care for direct human interaction and attentiveness in class is lacking due to mobile use and needs to be addressed.