Say “Uh-Uh!” to Phones
Shirley Xu, Division 1, 6th grade #ws17e-s1d1

The school bell rings: four monotonous and lackluster times, ringing, ringing. School dismissal. While children of lower grades yelp and start heading for the exit gate, some skipping with happiness, most fifth and sixth graders have their heads down; their eyes are focused on the blaring, neon lights constricted only by a small screen. One hand on a techy device, the other fiddling away, twitching, twiddling over a game, text messages, or social media… Their eyes look misted over, distant and without emotions.

My school dismissal routine, however, is slightly different from most sixth graders. A large smile plastered on my face, I run toward my friends in another class. Refusing to be a slave of an electronic screen, I believe that people can thrive in face-to-face interactions, instead of on a screen. Spending quality time with my friends results in a very strong bond among us.

Most young students desire to have a phone at an early age, and keep bugging their parents relentlessly until they receive one. The response is always, “Soon.” The response of endless waiting. The response of not knowing. The response that is questionable. When is soon? Aside from my difference that I do not have a phone, one question remains lodged deep in my brain: why would I need a phone? Sure, it would be more convenient to pick up my device and call whomever, whenever, wherever. But at this time in my life, a phone seems more like a hassle than a convenience. To most parents, children requesting a phone become a nuisance. However, my parents seem expectant, hinting towards when the day will come that I suddenly have the desire for a phone.

Having face-to-face interactions results in a long-term and close relationship with my friends. Talking to an actual human being is much more rewarding than receiving a text message. Conversing also increases our ability to effectively communicate with each other at all levels. Friends get along congenially and see the expressions on each other’s face. Phones have replaced voices, smiles, laughter, and all the elements that distinguish us as humans. Electronic devices have conquered our world, swooping away our emotions. The amount of texting has increased 7,700% over the last decade. Even worse, most people are unaware that devices have taken over their social life. Sure, one may have over one thousand friends on Facebook, but where is the one-on-one connection? Right here, right now, messages are being sent from behind a screen, and by the end of the day, 23 billion texts will be sent out via all sorts of media. But where is the much-needed hug, or a reassuring smile?

I stand out from my age group, as I do not want a phone; and I do not encourage young people getting one. Take a stand! Please think about your close friends and invite them over, to have interaction time instead of burying your face in an impassive screen.
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