National Comment Comment

Sometimes it's best to leave the phone alone

Despite their obvious benefits, the health implications of constant phone use suggests that we may have to restrict ourselves

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Image: Kent Chen

Since the birth of the mobile phone so many years ago, there have been countless critics suggesting that they have a negative impact on our health.

These protests have gathered steam as television mogul Simon Cowell has announced that he hasn't used his phone for ten months and feels better for it. The natural instinct kicks in "if a celebrity does it, then I should, too!". Normally I find this obscene, but Cowell might have a point here. It is, after all, no Kylie Jenner lip challenge.

I find it infuriating when some-one whips out their Samsung mid-conversation. On the one hand I understand that emails and news notifications can be useful and demand a quick response but we should not completely disrupt actual conversation for the sake of a meme. One cannot simply ignore the fact that life carries on around them while they stare at a bunch of lit-up pixels. At a festival last summer, I noticed that there were more people in the crowd videoing the acts than were actually watching them! Whatever happened to enjoying the moment?

I do agree that we are addicted to our phones, however this cannot change overnight. We rely on technology for so many things such as maps, reminders to take medication, and calling family. Mobile phones were developed for contact, albeit a primitive one now. They were designed to make life easier but are they making life more difficult?

Last year, The Telegraph re-ported that Prince Harry was urging people to put down their phones as part of several months campaigning about mental health. Talking at a panel in Leeds, Harry emphasised that young people need to take a break from phones to process their own thoughts, rather than continu-ously scrolling through a social me-dia feed for hours a day. He stated: "I read recently that young peo-ple check their phones at least 150 times per day - I'm sure we could all be more effective and efficient if we took a moment to process our thoughts rather than rushing from one thing to the next."

Harry also discussed the importance of making discussions of mental health as commonplace as those of physical health. An article from The Guardian discusses re-search outlining how late-night mobile phone use has a detrimental effect on sleep, and consequently mood. There is also the issue of comparing one-self to everyone online and of course the rise of FOMO. 'Fear of missing out' has been one of the main consequences of recent social media, especially on sites where people can post edited photos to seem perfect which can sway our person-al view of our own lives. It seems that ditching the device could be helpful. But how difficult could it be?

I happened to come across an app developed in Scandinavia designed exactly for this purpose. 'Hold' was created to encourage people to not use their phones for extended periods of time, for which they would be rewarded with points. These points could earn things such as free coffees from Costa and even a free driving lesson! I even challenged my boyfriend to download it, an avid techno-geek, engineering student and ex-Head of Computing at URY. And it worked! The m-ment he started collecting points he started leaving his phone alone for hours. To our surprise, within a day he managed to collect enough points for two free cinema tickets.

I find developments like this such a good idea and create an incentive for leaving your phone alone. As habitual creatures, we may be able to train ourselves out of looking at Twitter every five minutes. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could have a genuine face to face conversation once more! So, as much as I have my disagreements with Mr Cowell, I believe he may have a point here. Perhaps having some breaks from technology could be useful. It's a yes from me.

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