(Kristen Muth) – There have been movies, books and TV shows all about how, eventually, machines would take over the world, and now that prophecy may be coming true.
According to a Wall Street Journal article by In Soo Nam, smartphones are rapidly becoming a big problem for our generation.
“I hate doing it but I can’t help it,” stated high-school student Lee Yun-Soo as she fiddled with her gadget.
Ms. Lee’s problem is shared by roughly 1 in 5 students in South Korea, whose problem is smartphone addiction.
The addiction is defined as “spending more than seven hours a day using the phone and experiencing symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and depression when cut off from the device.”
The mobile phone penetration rate is more than 100%, meaning some people have more than one device. Smart phones make up nearly 2/3 of these devices, and the South Korean government is now setting up measures to deal with the problems they have caused.
The smartphone penetration rate in kids from 6 to 19 tripled last year from the year before, according to the Korea Communications Commission.
According to the Pew Research Center, 37% of the U.S. teens owned a smartphone, while a survey in Japan found that the amount of high school girls using smartphones tripled last year!
The problem is getting so out-of-hand that it’s even damaging social skills:
“Students today are very bad at reading facial expressions,” said Setsuko Tamura at Tokyo Seitoku University. “When you spend more time texting people instead of talking to them, you don’t learn how to read nonverbal language.”
Teens have been labeled “heads-down tribes.” Is that really how we want to be known?
It may not be completely our fault, though. Peer pressure may have had a hand in it, too:
“Smartphones are often the most important possession for a young person,” said Ms.Tamura. “It represents their connection to their friends. Not participating could mean exclusion from a circle of friends, so we always find that children are terribly anxious to respond to messages.” she said.’
Often following peer pressure is bullying, and sadly, in some schools, incidents have already started to occur.
Newer smartphone users are set up as “kings,” while kids using older models are left as “slaves,” and are often bullied for it.
While countries continue struggling to get the problem under control, I think I’ll take an easier route and get my kids flip phones in place of smartphones, at least until they can afford one themselves.
(Kristen is a 13-year-old homeschooler interning for Nevada News & Views)