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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: Our parents were right; it might be the phones

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If your upbringing was anything like mine, any minor health issue brought to your parents' attention was promptly linked to the closest electronic device. Though they may have mistakenly connected our stomach aches to screen time, their intuition wasn't entirely off base. Our parents were onto something with the long-term consequences of constant digital connection.  

When was the last time you ate a meal without a YouTube video? Walked to class without listening to music? Do you ever leave the room without your phone? How often are you working on homework, scrolling on your phone and watching TV simultaneously? Instant gratification, constant entertainment and we barely lift a finger to get it.  

After a while, the real world is no longer engaging to us, and we need more and more content to keep our restless minds happy. Our brains were never meant for this much constant stimulation: living a life in constant search for dopamine hits. 

Dopamine, commonly mistaken for a “happy” chemical, is actually part of your brain's reward circuit system. When we do enjoyable things, like watching a funny video or scrolling through our feeds, dopamine is released, encouraging us to keep going. This system is solely driven by desire. Desire can be satisfying in small doses, but if left unsatisfied, it can have the opposite effect. When the dopamine released through the stimulation we receive from our devices doesn't satisfy our brains, we’re left wanting more, leading to endless scrolling and searching for the next most interesting thing. This cycle traps us and leaves us permanently restless and unsatisfied.  

I write this as someone who has personally seen the effects of this in my own life. When I saw my Instagram Wrapped for the year, showing I had spent the equivalent of 28 whole days on the app, I knew something had to change. And Instagram wasn’t even my most used app! Between TikTok, Snapchat, Netflix, YouTube and Messages, I, and most of the people my age, have spent a good portion of our teen years and adult lives attached to a phone.  

This constant stimulation can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress. It can also make it difficult to focus and pay attention. Want a date? It is a swipe away on Tinder. Want to see a movie? There are thousands to choose from on a streaming platform of your choice. Need something in a rush? Amazon Prime can have it on your doorstep by the morning. Although wonderfully convenient, the ability to have whatever we need to be provided immediately and whenever we want has solved one problem but caused another. Now, things intended to take time and effort have either been reduced to a cheap version of themselves or forgotten entirely. As I’m sure you've noticed, “slow things” like love and friendship, are much more difficult now that we are all used to the instant gratification of convenience.  

The next time you're doom-scrolling, remember it is more than okay to take a break from it all. Take some time to do something that requires effort and dedication, just because. Taking a break from technology and engaging with the world around us can help reduce stress, improve focus and appreciate the things that truly matter. I think you’ll find that by taking a moment to unplug, you’ll find the authenticity you've been scrolling for.  

  

Ainsley Foster is a sophomore studying elementary education. 

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