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 Luke GearhartMr. YaggiHonors English III19 January 2018Smartphones: In 1992, a mobile device called the Simon Personal Communicator was introduced.  Five years later in 1997, this technology was renamed the “smartphone,” which propelled humans into the smartphone based society of today (Smartphone).  Since the introduction of smartphones, humans have developed a psychological attachment to their devices, a term recently coined no-mobile-phone phobia, or nomophobia (Stone).  The use of smartphones has become a controversial topic in recent years.  Some experts argue that people should not use smartphones because they have negative mental and social effects. On the other hand, proponents of these devices argue that humans should use smartphones because they increase productivity and improve life standards.First, opposition to  these devices assert that humans should not use smartphones because they lead to harmful mental effects.  Aric Suber-Jenkins, reporter and writer at TIME and Fortune on technological issues, writes in an article regarding neurological effects of smartphones, Likewise, a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland’s International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, found that people who were asked to stay away from emails, text messages, Facebook, and Twitter updates for 24 hours developed withdrawal symptoms typically seen in smokers attempting to give up smoking. Indeed, emerging research suggests that the same neural circuitry in the brain is involved in response to rewards obtained from seemingly benign repetitive behaviours such as exercising to more problematic behaviours such as gambling and substance abuse.  This research suggests the applications most commonly utilized on smartphones —  social media, email and text messaging — can employ the same biological neural networks activated in physical addictions like substance abuse.  With 21st century technology, humans seek instant gratification through smartphones.  Recently, this technology has become more and more accessible to everybody, causing smartphone addiction to become increasingly prevalent in today’s society.  When people live without their device for even a short time, twenty-four hours, the study reveals they can show similar withdrawal symptoms to substance abusers. This information is significant because the brain is rewired during addiction and takes a great amount of time to return a normal, unaddicted state. Also, the addictions mentioned in the article such as smoking and substance abuse harm people because people go to extreme measures to use the object or substance that they are addicted to, which can cause them to act irrationally and differently than normal.  These behaviors can negatively impact an individual’s professional lives as well as strain personal relationships.  Unlike illegal drugs and cigarettes, smartphones can be taken and used anywhere, which can make the addiction even more harmful than others.  Just as smartphones have been proven to have mentally addictive qualities like cigarettes, they also impede humans socially. Humans should not use smartphones because they have negative social effects.  Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor of Social Studies of Science and Technology with over twenty years of research on the behavioral impacts of technology, states in an interview, Eighty-nine percent of Americans say that during their last social interaction, they took out a phone, and 82 percent said that it deteriorated the conversation they were in. Basically, we’re doing something that we know is hurting our interactions.  I’ll point to a study. If you put a cell phone into a social interaction, it does two things: First, it decreases the quality of what you talk about, because you talk about things where you wouldn’t mind being interrupted, which makes sense, and, secondly, it decreases the empathic connection that people feel toward each other (Suttie).  Technology has taken the place of regular conversation in modern society.  Turkle stated that “Eighty-nine percent of Americans say that during their last social interaction, they took out a phone.”  The interruption of devices eliminates the intimacy of conversations.  Some things that can be compromised when using a phone in a conversation are eye contact, quality of conversation, and the connection to what is being said.  Humans thrive on the sense of belonging, all they want is to be recognized and know that what they say is being heard, but the constant distraction of the smartphone prevents this desire from being fulfilled.  As a result of this, self confidence decreases.  Even though the issue of smartphones contains a negative side, they also present an upside. Supporters of this technology argue that people should use smartphones because they increase productivity.  Author Melanie Turek, Vice President of Research at Frost & Sullivan, writes about a study conducted by Frost & Sullivan and Samsung,Samsung recently teamed up with Frost & Sullivan to survey 500 managers and executives working at companies or government organizations in the U.S… The results are remarkable: Respondents report that as a result of using smartphones to get work done, they gain nearly an hour (58 minutes) of work time each day and nearly an hour (58 minutes) of personal time each day on average, and see an estimated productivity increase of a whopping 34 percent.The average working American works an eight hours day, and with one extra hour of work being done in the office, productivity increases significantly.  One way that businesses are encouraging productivity is by making certain mandatory applications to make work more efficient and concise.  Increasing productivity is important in a business setting because it can benefit the employee personally as well as the company as a whole.  With more work being done, an employee’s salary can grow and also enable the company to thrive.  A successful business will positively contribute to the overall economy and well-being of humans.  Personally, humans benefit from productivity because when an individual works productively and achieves their task, they feel a sense of satisfaction it their work that would not be fulfilled without the aid of smartphones.  In addition to increasing productivity, smartphones also benefit people because they provide accessible communication.Humans should use smartphones because they improve standard of living.  According to an NYU research essay named “The Impact of Smartphones and Mobile Devices on Human Health and Life”, author Leonid Miakotkol states, “Cell phones allow their owner access to information, services, education and communication for free or for an affordable price. Mobile technologies empower the people to take control of their future. The handheld devices transform the way people interact with one another, official institutions, access basic health, education, financial and business services” (13). Smartphones are advantageous to users because they allow customers to use an array of basic applications for free, and the low price to obtain information or other useful tools greatly help impoverished people.   The ability to quickly and affordably access information holds a great significance in today’s society because people today seek answers immediately.  Theses devices allow this to happen at a very low cost, allowing the impoverished to be on an somewhat equal playing field as other middle and upper class citizens.  Another significant impact that smartphones hold is the ability to access health information.  Current smartphones contain certain applications that alert users of their quality of sleep, heart rate, and other important health factors that contribute to one’s overall wellness and standard of living.  In conclusion, smartphones remain widely used and accepted; however, concerns exist about the major drawbacks of smartphones.  Opposition to smartphones stems from findings about the negative neurological and social effects of the modern technology.   Despite these drawbacks, smartphones provide increased productivity as well as improving standard of living.  In modern society, smartphones serve as a controversial topic of debate, and continued research will decide whether or not these advanced devices should be utilized.

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