Glued to our phones? Yes, of course we are!

Glued to our phones? Yes, of course we are!

“Get off your bloody phone!!!” It’s the modern-day parental catch cry directed daily at millennials and drawing cursory eye-rolls from smart phone devotees like myself who can’t imagine an hour, let alone a day, without checking our screens.

But despite what you may think, Mum and Dad, it is not mindless activity that has me virtually glued to my phone from the moment I wake up to the time I go to bed (and switch my phone to vibrate – come on, you never know when there might be a late-night “emergency” text 💁🏽).

My mobile phone is what connects me to everything I know – to my friends, my studies, my work, my interests, and to the wider world – and as a journalism student this is pretty much key!

Now, I know you’re worried that I’m going to end up with a phone addiction, insomnia, socialisation issues or depression, and I do appreciate your concern. But let me assure you, switching off my phone is more likely to leave me with a much more serious ailment for teens in the tech age – a severe case of FOMO (Google it, parents).

So to put your mind at ease, and assure you I am not turning into some vacuous bot with white-screen fever, I have compiled this list of what I (and I suspect thousands of others like me) am actually doing when you tell me for the umpteenth time to put down my beloved bloody phone.

Communicating:

Who’d have thunk it? We are using our phones for their actual intended purpose. But just to be clear, “communicating” takes on a wider meaning in 2017 than it did when you were my age. My version of “talking” to friends includes Facebook Messenger and text messages, Snapchat and Kik, because life is busy and I don’t have time to actually go and see my friends or stop to sit and chat. And I don’t even have to message them directly to find out what’s going on. Facebook is the most popular social media site with teens, according to research by the Pew Research Centre. It found more than 70 per cent of us check in on friends through Facebook, just over half use Instagram, 41 per cent prefer Snapchat and one-third use Twitter. The reality is that you’re just going to have to deal with it as, when (and if) I move out of home one day, this is how I shall be communicating with you!  Soz, not soz.

Entertainment:

We are not known as “generation now”for nothing. Teenagers don’t want to wait weeks or months for the ending of their favourite TV series, and we’re not sitting down on the family couch at 8.30pm on weeknights to find out what happened to Nina or Bobby or whoever from the previous week’s episode. We want instant access to all episodes! And, did I mention, we want them NOW? Plus travelling to uni is so boring, so watching our downloaded shows during the commute makes it so much less painful and fills in the otherwise empty time. The availability of streaming services like Netflix and Stan are overtaking free-to-air TV for our age group by almost 100 per cent (27 per of teenagers use Netflix opposed to 14 per cent watching free-to-air). And why wouldn’t it? It allows us to have access to the whole series, sometimes before the first episode has even been shown on TV. Plus we can dip into YouTube – the holy grail of videos, regularly enjoyed by 34 per cent of teenagers – watching our fave bit of our fave series or our fave YouTube blogger teaching us essential things like make-up applications. How do you think we become make-up artists overnight? This face doesn’t just happen on its own, than-Q.

Selfies and snaps:

Let’s face it, every young person likes a good selfie. Our phones have become a portable personal photo album and daily log of our life. Selfies and snaps are taken to remind us of: a) how good we look today; and b) what we did today while looking good. But taking selfies is no simple task. For each pic that get published, there may be a dozen more; getting right pose, the right mood, the right filter, the right lighting. But please don’t give me grief about it. It’s entirely normal. According to one survey, millennials can expect take 25,700 selfies in a single life time. That’s seven minutes per selfie, and an hour per week taking them, if you want to break it down. But don’t worry, we are not just focusing on ourselves. We are the generation who loves to experience everything through a lens – think concerts, sunsets, food, anything. We can’t be relying on our memories for such things because we need proof that it happened and, speaking for myself, most of the time my memory is not that crash hot. Plus, how cute are those little bunny rabbit Snapchat filters!

Music:

This one’s a biggy so don’t be messing with me on this! I would literally spend my last $10 on my Spotify subscription so I can listen to the best tunes on repeat, and apparently 44 per cent of teenagers agree with me. And for those who don’t like forking out the cashola it is probably no surprise to learn that almost three quarters of teens stream music on demand through YouTube. The radio doesn’t provide enough diversity, and it censors out essential expletives, plus it has the same crap on repeat over and over. Who can be bothered flicking through different stations to find something you actually want to listen to? I want music that appeals to me now, like Drake, Kendrick, DJ Khaled, Rhianna, and Ed Sheeran. But try finding them all on one channel! I’m happy to mix it up on my own, when I feel like it, and be in charge of my own musical destiny – and without ads, Sing Hallelujah!

News:

Newsflash, like, literally. As a journalism student I need to keep on top of the news and I find Facebook and Twitter the best and easiest places to access it, fast and free. I can read more articles online than you could ever hold in one newspaper, and without having to pay the $1.50, or whatever it is these days. I would rather spend that money on food to eat while reading my news, and it seems others would too, with 60 per cent of teenagers consuming news through social media or the internet. And it makes sense. It’s easy, accessible, and it’s up-to-date. Why would I pay to read yesterday’s news in an awkward package when I can find out what’s happening right now, in the palm of my hand. I can read, watch, listen and interact. There is so much choice and I don’t have to stick to one agenda. And when I’m in a hurry (which as you can probably guess by now is pretty often) I can get my news in bite-size chunks that are easy to digest. Some of the modern digital news sites also know how to talk to us in a non-patronising, non-newsy way. And if I don’t like it, swipe, click!

Studies:

Gone are the days of heavy backpacks full of books. My uni communicates with me online, so I have no choice but to be online too! All of my study and research can be done from my phone and if parents want us to “pull our socks up” and learn then we have to stay online. We submit our assignments and communicate with teachers all through the digital world. And with most of the readings, journals and articles online it helps when, ahem, we may have left assignments to the last minute, and we may have to access and process the information mere moments before said assignments are due. Thank you magic Apple.

Games:

Throw us a bone, please! We have to have SOME down-time! And of course that down-time is going to be spent on our phones! Candy Crush, Word Cookie, Minecraft, and the best game of all (lol jokes), Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, is yet another reason us teens are glued to our phones. As mentioned, the train or bus trip home can be long an boring, so we need to find some other sources of entertainment beyond avoiding eye contact with other commuters. It’s probably no surprise that boys beat the girls in this category, with 84 per of boys and 59 per cent of girls playing games on their phones just to keep occupied.

Reading:

Yes, you read it right, reading! And not just 140-character-long social media posts. Essays, long-form journalism and other articles are so available that you can never be lost for something to read. Not to mention e-books, that you purchase when you want them without having to visit a bookshop or library. They offer backlighting, variable font size, and are lighter than most physical books, which means there’s no worries about head injuries if you nod off during your pre-bedtime readIt’s true that we’re not doing this a lot though, with studies showing most millennials still like the smell, feel and attachment to a good old-fashioned book. A 2013 study found 62 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds prefer traditional books over digital ones. But yes, sometimes I like to escape with a good novel on my phone, especially when I don’t want anyone judging my choice by the cover. Perhaps that’s why 50 Shades of Grey was the biggest selling Kindle book of all time!

So there you have it Mum and Dad. My “bloody phone” is more than just a “bloody phone”. It is literally my world. So please stop asking me to put it down and get on with living because, for me, it is where life happens.

I’m OK with it and hopefully, now you can be a little more OK with it too. GTG, my phone’s calling! 😘 – Alicia Camilleri

Alicia Camilleri

Alicia Camilleri

An enthusiastic reporter with a strong work ethic. She currently interns at Studio 10. Follow her on Twitter: @AliciaCam98; and Facebook


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