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Smartphones have entered society quickly and changed our habits in ways that no one could have foreseen when phones were introduced in 2007.
In the 12 to 50 age group, 99% own a phone with which they can check online newspapers, emails and social networks.
The smartphone has undoubtedly brought us invaluable benefits and a better life. For example, simplified payment, contact with friends, fact finding and ticket purchase.
At the same time, it is important to critically assess how we use the phone. We have a special responsibility towards children and young people.
We know that the mental health of young people has deteriorated considerably over the past 15 years. This applies to both Norway and the United States. As such worsening trends have coincided with the rise of the smartphone, there is reason to investigate whether there may be a connection.
High school students think cell phones are annoying
Physician and neuroscientist Ole Petter Hjelle argues in his book Det digital dopet (2022) that cell phones are highly addictive. On average, we tap our cell phones 150 times a day, which is equivalent to 11 years of our lives.
Signs of developing withdrawal among smartphone users have become so common that they have been given their own term: nomophobia (no-mobile-phone-phobia), and describes the fear of being without one’s phone, for example. because it is lost, forgotten at home or out of charge. Social networks are particularly addictive.
Additionally, Hjelle claims that social media leads to more loneliness and worry. In a study of Facebook’s early years, the mental health of college students who didn’t have access to Facebook was compared to college students who did. The results showed an increase in the number of students reporting severe depression and anxiety by 7% and 20% respectively. This means that the incidence of these conditions was three times higher where there was access to the platform.
A larger study conducted in Canada a few years later mapped the Internet use of 3,826 girls and boys aged 12 to 13 over four years. The study showed that each hour of increased social media use and television viewing, over the four years that the experiment lasted, resulted in a significant increase in the degree of depressive symptoms and a reduction in self-esteem among participants.
Although technology has given us a better life, there is reason to limit its use to young people.
All teachers and parents want their children and young people to use school time for learning, development and social interaction. In particular, the secondary school years are important years for the development of self-image and self-understanding.
Based on the knowledge we have about the unfortunate effects of mobile phone use, both related to addiction and worsening psychological problems, it is surprising that the municipal secondary schools in Bærum allow young people to use cell phones during recess.
Pupils of the private schools Norges realfagsungdomskole and Norges Toppidrettsgymnas ungdomskole must return their mobile phones every morning.
Although technology has given us a better life, there is reason to limit its use to young people. A simple measure is to allow the school to be a cell phone-free zone, also in secondary school.
Is the mobile phone a disruptive element?
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