Technology Tuesday: An Open Letter (Challenge) To Teenagers with Cell Phones

I was recently meeting with a young woman in high school I respect very much.  I already did respect her when she told me the following story.  Now, I respect her even more.  She’s swimming upstream in this age of technology.  And I wanted her to write a Technology Tuesday because I believe her thoughts…her passion and her commitment can help the teenagers you love.  Actually, they might can help us all learn to be better stewards not only of technology, but relationships.

In our daily lives, we are constantly surrounded by technology. Everywhere we go phones, laptops, and other devices are always in use. Not long ago, phones were used for a means of communication, and that was it. Now phones are more commonly used for social media purposes. Weather it be snapchat, twitter, or Instagram, people close themselves off from the world and instead engage in what’s on their screens. I used to consider my phone the most important thing in my life. I constantly checked it interested to see how many likes I got on Instagram, who posted their thoughts on twitter, and see what people were doing on snapchat stories. I have had my iphone since 5th grade and did not decide until recently that my usage on it was a problem. I began to believe that being on my phone was more important that having conversations with friends and family. Like many teens, I also used my phone to procrastinate sleep, homework, and important conversations. After having 3 different phones within a 4 year period, I decided it was time to make a switch. When my iphone broke for the last time, I had only one clear option. I would use my insurance money to replace the phone and get the new iphone 7, like my parents suggested. But instead I resisted and bought a flip phone…unsure how it would effect my life. 

Though I had a flip phone, I was also using my ipad to occasionally check Instagram and do my streaks on snapchat. Almost four months ago, I made the decision to delete my snapchat. After almost 2 years of using the app, It began to seem pointless. Sending pictures of my face back and forth to people, not because it was fun but because I had to continue my streaks. People abuse the use of snapchat stories by posting pictures proving they have plans or are doing something with friends. The app became an obligation to keep streaks instead of wanting to do it for fun. My iphone and snapchat became overwhelming, drained my storage and cellular data, made people feel left out, and became pointless. 

Being 15 years old in the 21 century, technology is a part of my everyday life. I live in a society that relies on iphones to keep us entertained, avoid awkward conversations, and to scroll through social media. I have never met someone that went from an Iphone to a flip phone, and neither had the Verizon sales man.

I have had my flip phone for almost four months I have already noticed the positive effect it has had on my life. My phone is limited to calling and texting, everything a phone needs. I don’t spend hours wasting precious time procrastinating. Instead, I am able to save money, get more sleep, and ultimately increase my academic standards. Without procrastinating on my phone, I have been able to go to sleep at an earlier time, finish important assignments quickly, spend more time focusing on my daily studies, and talk to my friends more. I am able to physically communicate and meet new people more. By putting my phone away, I have had countless opportunities to meet new people and learn their story. It is incredible to learn something new about someone just by putting your phone up.  

Ever since switching to a flip phone and deleting snapchat, I have become more aware of how many teens are on their phones. When people choose to be on their phones instead of making conversation, they are sending a message that their phone is more important. I have also noticed how typically teens use their phones to avoid awkward conversations. Whether it is standing by yourself or being in an uncomfortable setting, people use their phones to act as a barrier, separating themselves from the world. It has truly opened my eyes to the dangers iphones bring among young people.

I challenge you to engage in the world by putting up your phone. Instead of finishing your streaks or checking your likes, meet someone new, have that awkward conversation, talk to your mom, go to bed, finish your homework, and countless more things. Getting a flip phone truly changed my life and how I view things. We truly miss out on the beauty of the world by wasting away precious minutes on our phones. Some of the most important moments are the ones we spend with friends and family without the distraction of devices. I can honestly say that my flip phone has changed my life for the better and has enabled me to get more sleep, raise my grades, meet new people, talk to my friends more, and engage with the world.