Cell phones have come a long way since brick sized boxes that were once considered a luxury. Now that most people have upgraded to smartphones—not just a phone but your money, map and calendar, too—cell phone bans are becoming less common. Fewer cell phone bans means smartphones are becoming increasingly ingrained in our daily lives, affecting mental, physical, and emotional health in ways we never could have imagined.  

When the cell phone trend was on its upward incline, many considered cell phone addiction to be an epidemic. Similar to shopping, gambling, and video game addiction, it was seen as a coping mechanism for people wishing to detach from day-to-day life. Although there are some harmful side effects to cell phone addiction, which can develop into social media addiction, the impact of cell phones is balancing out as it maintains a constant presence in society.

There was a lot of controversy on cellphones in the classroom, with many different approaches about how to handle the prominence of this new technology. Some teachers banned the use of cellphones in the classroom, while other did the opposite and encouraged students to use their phones to take notes, make calendar reminders, and access classroom technology.

Flexible Bans

Although schools are becoming more flexible in allowing students to use their cellphones, it is still important to enforce cell phones be put away during exams. It can be pretty easy to spot someone using their phone, but when phones are locked away somewhere safe, students avoid the temptation of using them as a resource, the stress of whether or not they should be responding to a text message and it gives teachers one less thing to worry about.

Even select areas like golf courses and country clubs once banned cell phones to avoid distracting players with ringers. However, with so many people using cell phones to keep track of their scores, take photos and be accessible to family and work at a moment’s notice, the US Open began allowing fans to use their cell phones as of 2015.

As handy as cellphones are, there are many instances where banning cellphone use makes a lot of sense. Concern about wireless network interference on planes has demanded all cell phones be turned off or set on airplane mode throughout flights. Although this is less of a concern today, so much so that the ban was proposed to be lifted by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in 2013, the proposal was shot down because listening to people’s phone calls in a crowded plane sounded taxing to most people.

Times to Detach

Similarly, cell phones are banned in many restaurants, as well as music venues, to foster the kind of environment they are trying to maintain; intimate, quiet, romantic—something that proves difficult when receiving constant messages, especially if they’re from someone you don’t know.

Limiting cell phone use in these circumstances is a little different because you’re choosing to put yourself in an environment that is best experienced away from phones. Going out to dinner, broadway or to an intimate show where phones aren’t allowed can be a refreshing change of pace. Sometimes it’s important to detach from the digital world and allow yourself time and space to focus on yourself and your surroundings.

Cellphones are a technology unlike any other. They contain access to private conversations, information and photos, which is why even the supreme court has weighed in on an individual’s right to cell phone privacy. Having the ability to call a family member or friend at the touch of a button can be the difference between whether someone feels safe or not. They provide information about what weather to dress for and even how to get dressed. They are arguably the most important piece of technology in our daily life.

Cell phones provide a world of knowledge that is difficult to detach from, even when you want to, but for the sake of your health, it’s important to step away from them when you need a break and give your mind and body time to rest.

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