The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

Feeling Stressed? Your Phone Could be to Blame

Credit: Mel McCullough ’26

Look up from your screen! It could increase your life expectancy and you might find joy in ditching your phone for valuable relationships.

In today’s generation, young kids are often more interested in what technology has to offer than what is right outside their front door.

Thanks to smartphones, people of all ages can do unlimited things from the comfort of their own couch.

In an article written by American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the average elementary school student  “spends four to six hours a day watching or using screens” and the average high school student “spends up to nine hours” each day. For teens, that is around 40% of the their day wasted on technology.

This leaves little to no time to spend outside, which has been proven to reduce stress, improve your mind in and out of the classroom and workspace, and even reduce chances of many life-threatening diseases.

For humanity today, technology brings in countless benefits. One can order anything from groceries to a new car just with a few clicks on a phone, computer, and even by using AI. You can also use technology to connect with others all across the world in just a few seconds, completely eliminating the need for paper letters and the delay of the postage systems.

Although technology has transformed modern life in many positive ways , being outside and present with the world around you can benefit your physical and mental health far more than staring at a screen will.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “being outside in active spaces supports an active and healthy lifestyle.” Even though this idea has been drilled into health class curriculum all over the United States, students still continue to look past the benefits of being tech free.

Health services, such as the American Pediatric Association and The American Academy of Pediatrics, have seen an increase in un-healthy media use over the past four years due to the recent global pandemic.

“Media use in tweens and teens rose faster in the [four] years since the COVID-19 pandemic than the four years before,” said TAAP.

Due to the uncertainty of the past four years, health services can only be certain about one thing: kids who spend all their time focused on a screen are unhappier and unhealthier than those who spend time outside, without technology.

From June 30 to July 14 of 2023, I spent two weeks backpacking with the program “Bold Earth Adventures” on one of the most famous trails in Iceland, The Laugavegur Trail.

I spent this time surrounded by 11 other teenagers, ages 15-18, who came from all over the United States and even other countries like India. Even though our counselors had access to their phones, there was no actual service on the trail, forcing everyone on it to be tech-free, whether they wanted to or not.

I consider this to be one of the best experiences I have ever had, and a big part of that is due to not having access to my phone for the entirety of the trip.

Going into the two weeks I thought it was going to be much harder to not have my phone on me, but even after just a day in, instead of having a feeling of needing my phone, I had felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

The only times I even thought about wanting a phone are when I saw or did something I wanted to share with my loved ones at home. But after all, I had a physical camera for a reason.

At the end of the two weeks, I realized that I felt happier, less stressed, and at ease even after hiking more than nine miles each day.

Being able to live in the moment and connect with my peers around me, after being isolated from connection for so long due to the COVID lockdown, was something I did not even know I needed to experience: until I did.

It also inspired me to keep active in my everyday life, and to make sure I’m getting enough time outside. This upcoming summer I have plans to travel to Alaska again to backpack, this time for a month, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Teagan Duffy, a senior from Cumberland, Maine, who has attended an eight-week sleepaway camp for many of her adolescent summers, appreciates the importance of being tech-free in nature.

“Every summer I looked forward to not having my phone,” said Teagan. “It made me live in the moment and removed the social pressures to be picture perfect all of the time.”

Teagan also expressed the benefits of being in nature and making true human connections.

“The summers I spent at camp without my phone have absolutely had the biggest impact on who I am today,” Teagan said. “Being in nature and having to sit with it … knowing it’s up to you to take it in to remember it for the future is something special.”

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    Neil McCulloughJan 31, 2024 at 1:45 PM

    Fantastic article. It’s important for us to Look Up!