Hang up and hang out

Ishan Shah

You pick your phone up for the fifth time in 20 minutes. You instinctively check Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat even though you know you haven’t gotten any new notifications. You set the phone back down and try to get through the same textbook page that’s been open for the last hour.

While the digital age has undeniably brought us benefits, it has also made us more dependent on technology and the online world. In particular, phones have become embedded in our everyday lives because of their accessibility and necessity in modern society. 

Geography junior Asya Mazmanyan discussed how her phone interferes with her productivity.

“One of my greatest dissatisfactions comes from my bad habit of procrastinating by browsing social media,” Mazmanyan said. “If the time spent being on my phone was spent studying … I’d feel more productive and potentially get more work done.”

Far too often, students become trapped in their online lives. Let’s be honest — it’s really easy to mindlessly scroll through TikTok and spiral into a YouTube binge all day. Part of the reason why is the instant gratification and entertainment associated with these forms of social media.

However, it’s important to recognize that social media is nothing more than a short-term high. We rely on it to distract ourselves from our responsibilities, our work and our stress. Is the temporary dopamine spike really worth it?

The research says no.

Studies by San Diego State University and Kent State University show that higher social media and cell phone usage correlate with mental health issues, anxiety and lower satisfaction with life.

Through my first semester of college, I struggled with finding a balance between my work and my social life. Having my phone on me at all times wasn’t helping my case. Watching my friends live their best lives on this highlight reel we call social media made me feel lonely and discontent with my own experiences.

Yesenia Roman, senior academic adviser in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said most people only post what makes them look best on social media.

“They post when they get engaged, promoted, buy property, etc.,” Roman said. “Not everyone will want to post about their failures.”

Constantly comparing our day-to-day realities to what we see online is not only unnecessary, it’s also unhealthy — especially when people don’t always post accurate versions of their lives. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. I realize it’s preposterous to ask college students to stop using their phones altogether due to how necessary they are as a means of communication. Instead, I encourage you to take short breaks from your devices in order to help clear your mind and boost your focus. I’m not saying it’s easy, but recognizing the issue is an important first step to making a change.

“I definitely believe that using (phones) should be in moderation, but I also get why it’s difficult to let go,” said Niruti Dhoble, electrical and computer engineering sophomore. 

So the next time you’re sitting in your room idly scrolling through your Instagram feed, consider disconnecting. Take a walk, read a book or find a hobby. Don’t waste your prime years behind a screen. 

Shah is an electrical and computer engineering freshman from Plano, Texas