According to the results of a poll conducted last month at the Sandpoint High School, virtually all students have a smartphone. The poll also showed that most of them are aware of the problems this device poses to their personal and intellectual lives.
In a poll done by our Kiwanis High School Key Club, at the invitation of Dr. Bob Rust, we distributed a questionnaire to 20 randomly-chosen students to assess their phone usage. The results showed that only one student in the sample did not have a smartphone; the rest did, and used their phones, by their report, from 2 to 6 hours a day. In fact, 79% of them reported sleeping with their smartphone within reach.
The poll suggested that cyber-bullying is a significant problem. When asked if they had ever felt personally hurt or offended by an electronic communication or posting, 65% reported that this had happened to them, but rarely, and 10% reported this happened quite frequently.
Many researchers have determined that excessive smartphone use is harming youth, by draining time from more rewarding activities, by leaving young people less connected to each other personally, and by deadening their curiosity and spirit of adventure. It appears that Sandpoint High students are aware of these problems. When asked whether they felt students in general use their phones more than is good for them, 80% agreed.
Perhaps even more significantly, when asked about their own use, 47% of the students with smartphones agreed with the statement, “In general, I think I use my phone more than is good for me.” So, students are aware of the hazards. This sensitivity suggests that, in the future, they will work toward strategies to keep electronic communication in its place.
Jim Payne has taught political science at Yale, Wesleyan Johns Hopkins and Texas A&M University. Marian Soderberg is President of the SHS Key Club.