Spend time offline: Your smartphone is making you stupid

Gwen Ueding | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

Every generation has their notorious fatal flaw. Baby boomers hate change, Gen X is cynical, millenials have a low work ethic and Gen Z is turning out to be a bunch of iPad kids. Our generation is the first to have easy access to technology and not to remember what life was like without that access at our fingertips. If we don’t start cutting down on our screen time, we may start to see what an episode of “Black Mirror” looks like in real life.

People spend all day, every day around phones, laptops, desktops, televisions and iPads. Some of that time is spent in front of the screen for work or studies, but we spend much of our personal time looking at our phones.

Research done by Exploding Topics in 2023 found that the average person spends three hours and 15 minutes on their phone a day, with 75% of Gen Z saying that they spend too much time looking at their phones. Because the statistic is an average across all ages, we’re willing to bet that if you checked your screen time for the last week, you’d find your average time to be much higher.

Because we spend so much time being overstimulated by our phones a day, research is showing it might have an adverse affect on cognition. Even having a phone within reach significantly reduces cognitive capacity, even if the phone is turned off. The reliance on technology to keep track of things for you, like phone numbers or reminders, is even making us as a society more intellectually lazy. Past the mental affects, phones are also affecting our interpersonal abilities.

It doesn’t take much to recognize the more time you spend staring at a phone, the less time you’re spending meeting people, deepening relationships or decompressing on your own. Passing time watching YouTube videos or TikToks of other people doing fun things is keeping you from doing it yourself, and the influencers you keep up with don’t even know who you are. Being stuck to your phone is keeping you from growth that only comes when you put the phone down and live your life.

Instead of letting yourself become addicted to your phone, use it as a tool to keep in contact with people you don’t get to see often or as a tool to deepen your understanding of topics you’re curious about. Right now, they are simply becoming a tool to dull senses, push away thoughts and numb emotions.

Obviously, we will never live in a world where phones aren’t taking up a significant amount of our time. But at the same time, our generation needs to make an effort to spend time trying to understand ourselves and others better, grow intellectually and find new activities that bring us joy.