Walk into a room of teenagers. What’s the first thing you notice? You are most likely to see that all of them are either using a smartphone or have one in their pocket. Many adults and members of the older generations are quick to criticize, deeming smartphones distracting and bad for adolescents. While some aspects of today’s technology can be overwhelming, this constant disapproval is uncalled for: the thin powerhouses have many practical uses that are changing the world for the better.
A Pew Research Center study reveals that by the end of 2015, almost 75 percent of American teens had access to a smartphone. 17-year-old Lauren Cloherty, a senior at Boston Latin School, uses her iPhone daily and agrees that it assists her in very practical ways.
“I use it to look things up and inform me about topics I am interested in,” Cloherty said. I also get notifications for breaking news and I like that. When I’m driving, I use maps to help me get places. I even have a AAA app, which would help me if I was ever stuck in the middle of nowhere and needed assistance.”
Justin Fyles, product strategist at the mobile design firm Intrepid, works to create applications for companies that are useful to all consumers. He believes in building things that are necessary for people and impactful in their lives.
On smartphones and modern technology, Fyles said, “It’s really the intersection of people and the world around them. The goal of smartphones isn’t to remove you from the world; it’s to enhance the world that you’re experiencing.
Smartphones help people capture moments, learn things, travel, communicate and connect with others. They bring information right to our fingertips and allow us to read the news in real time. They give us tools and opportunities to change our daily lives for the better, and we should be eager to appreciate these.
“Yes, we are using more and more technology,” Fyles said, “but technology is permeating itself into more aspects of our lives and benefiting us. As a society, we’ll increasingly spend time on smartphones as they advance. It’s up to us whether we want to spend that time for a burst of entertainment or if we want to learn Mandarin. Or learn Spanish. Or video chat with someone in Iran and connect around the world.
As a teenager in today’s ever-changing technological world, Lauren finds her phone very helpful in her academic life. She even has a whole folder on her iPhone with apps for school.
“Some apps I use include Google Drive, Quizlet, to help me study, and WordReference, which is basically a dictionary,” Cloherty said. “I use these for school all the time.”
It’s no secret that technology is infused with today’s world and smartphones are going to continue evolving. Only one question remains: will you evolve with them?