The Parthenon

Happiness can’t be found through a phone screen

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We are just halfway through 2015 and buzz is beginning to grow about the next release in Apple’s line of iPhones. Over the last decade, the iPhone has become the most popular smartphone in the United States with 38 million people owning the device and millions more owning smartphones like it.

It’s hard to blame those people either. Smartphones provide an easy, simple and efficient way to stay connected with and enjoy all of the things users love: family, friends, music, videos and the news.

But are smartphones breaking down the real-life social interactions and relationships we have, as well as how we experience things?

There are plenty of people who would disagree, citing the numerous ways smartphones have brought people together, kept people in touch and allowed them to efficiently run their businesses.

According to a joint 2012 study between Time Magazine and Qualcomm, at least 75 percent of those who responded across eight countries said that their constant connection to family and friends through a smart phone was mostly positive.

Likewise, most people would likely say the same thing when it comes to the instant availability of information. And there are definite advantages to having essential information available at your fingertips.

Smartphones also allow for people to preserve moments for as long as they want through videos and photos. But what cost is this digital connectivity having on real-life relationships and experiences?

Look no further than the last time you hung out with your friends. Did you find yourself saying something only to find they weren’t paying attention to you because of something on their phone? Whether they are busy or not this is an inadvertently rude action that leaves you feeling ignored and often turning to your own phone, creating the sad picture of a table full of people looking down at their phones.

A 2014 Pew Research study found that more than 40 percent of users aged 18-29 felt ignored by someone because of their smartphones.

In addition to social interactions, if you’re heading to a music festival this summer you’ll notice hundreds of smartphones documenting every minute of the experience. You may even be one of those who throws their phone above their head when your favorite band plays your favorite songs.

There’s nothing wrong with documenting the moment. In fact, that’s something humans have always done either by passing down tales through generations of storytelling, writing things down or capturing them through a lens.

Somewhere along that line though, we bypassed the experience of living in the moment and now just simply view it afterwards. How can you fully appreciate what is right in front of you if you’re experiencing it through a 5.5 inch screen? Why would you look at the world through the peephole of your front door?

Put the phones down and enjoy the moments as they happen. Talk to your friends in person, enjoy the unobstructed view of the concert and make real-life memories. Chances are those memories you make will outlast the phone.

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