By Jessica Gregory
On Thursday, 10th December, a power cut affected many homes across Torbay, disturbing many homes, schools, and even traffic lights (which could’ve resulted in some devastating incidents if drivers hadn’t been alert).
Considering how often we use technology, I decided to explore just how lost we are without it.
Only 26 years ago, the first smartphone was released, but now there are uncountable numbers, with our mobiles rapidly becoming an everyday essential. It seems necessary to bring your phone with you whenever you go out; it seems necessary to use your phone to contact friends and family; but, is it necessary to reach level 400 on Candy Crush and send 1001 selfies with Snapchat filters?
Maybe you think it is, but when internet users spend over a quarter of their day on average online, we might need to consider that we spend too long staring at our phones.
An NHS report states that, “mobile phone use may be linked with a range of important health problems. These include, but are not limited to, brain tumours”. Evidently, mobile phones are causing us damage to our physical health, but there’s also the mental health issues that need to be considered.
A survey found that YouTube had the most positive impact out of the social media platforms, and Instagram had the worst. As of November 2020, 27.45 million people use Instagram. If this social media outlet gives the most negative impacts, how can we allow so many people to continue using it? The survey stated that the largest negative impacts surrounded sleeping, the fear of missing out, and bullying.
However, reflecting on the work of thousands of school children this year is a good way to realise the positives, noticing how most of them- if not all- relied on the use of a computer, tablet, or even a phone. I know in cases where there was perhaps one electronic device per household, siblings had to wait for the other to complete theirs in order to do their work. So many online lessons, so many e-mails and so much work saved to our laptops just so we could complete our work, when only a hundred years ago, a pen would’ve been sufficient. This is clearly an example of how technology has been used to help thousands of people across the country, allowing children to work during a pandemic.
Moreover, the internet has allowed us an easy way to stay in contact with the people we care about, particularly during months of isolation. During lockdown, WhatsApp usage jumped 40%, showing the clear necessity people feel for that daily communication with those outside our households. Even before lockdown, I’m sure calls were important, particularly for those not in the same country as their loved ones, or for students who were just homesick. Human communication has proven vitally important over the last year, even if it had to be virtual.
Are our mobile phones a major advantage or disadvantage? Even if it helps us to stay in contact, it can become too much, particularly the person phoning us prioritises the people who actually made the effort to see us.
For now, however, technology has proven to be a major contributor to our everyday lives, and something that millions of us would now be unable to live without.
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