FRAZIER: Combating ‘Cellphone-itis’ in these modern times

Published 4:00 am Saturday, August 6, 2022

There is an illness in our culture that many have contracted — Cellphone-itis.

This is a medical term I have coined to describe a condition that causes one to be obsessed with their cellphone.

Certainly, you have seen those who are afflicted — groups out together at a restaurant all busily texting or scrolling through social media platforms instead of conversing with one another. Or those who go about shopping while in a conversation on their phone.

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It’s really interesting that many of these folks will even allow others to listen in by putting the caller on speaker phone. Patrons of nail shops are notorious for this since they can’t use their hands.

What is it about cellphones that some of us, yes, I say, us — there have been times I have experienced small bouts of cellphone-itis — can’t seem to remedy?

Is it a fear of not being in the loop with information or a mindless escape to avoid life?

Whatever it is, cellphone-itis is not healthy and what is really frightening is the effect it is having on our youth.

On the ABC News website, it was reported that teenagers in the U.S. spend an average of seven hours and 22 minutes on their phones a day. That’s just shy of an eight-hour workday. And what is even more concerning is that the report said, children ages 8 to 12 spend four hours and 44 minutes on their cellphones.

Talk about a pandemic, and unfortunately, our young people seem to be developing the worst cases. In an article written by Michael Ungar Ph.D. and published in Psychology Today, Unger says kids “are literally dying because of excessive cellphone use.”

Depression and suicide rates are skyrocketing in teens, and Unger said the numbers coincide with when cellphones became an accessory for most of them.

So, what do we do?

First, I think it is the responsibility of parents to limit their child’s cellphone use. Unger compared excessive cell phone usage to addiction, therefore, parents do not need to act as enablers. You wouldn’t give your child crack and expect them to regulate themselves, Unger said.

Also, schools need to impose limits.

I saw an interesting segment on a news station Wednesday evening that had to do with the use of cellphones in the classroom.

One high school decided to implement a “cellphone cemetery,” which is an area in the classroom where the phones are stored while class is in session.

What a brilliant idea.

Cellphones are a distraction in classroom settings. The use of them is also disrespectful to the instructor and disruptive to other students, and they negatively impact the ability of the user to learn.

Vicksburg is not immune to Cellphone-itis and this week in a letter to parents of Warren Central High School students, it was made known the school will be taking the district’s cellphone policy seriously and will be enforcing it in full.

Oddly, there have been some who made negative remarks and comments about the decision.

But what I don’t think these folks know is the decision to strictly enforce the school’s policy was supported by not just the administration, but also from input by a Student Lead Team from the school.

For those disgruntled, please take note. These teens, who represented their peers, admitted that cell phone use in the school setting hinders the ability to pay attention in class and they also stated too much social media raises the level of anxiety and some students have even struggled with depression.

We as a community need to act as the adult in the room and support this decision backed by teens.

And by doing so, maybe we will start to see a decline in Cellphone-itis.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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