All across the country, college students walk to class scrolling through Instagram posts, checking their emails, sending Snapchats, or checking the time. According to research performed by the Pew Research Center in 2010, 98% of all undergraduate students use the Internet and over 87% of students own a cellphone or laptop computer. As technology continues to develop, the use of technology continues to increase. This constant use of technology has caused issues with USF professors and staff.
“Yesterday I was in the UC and I had to clean the men’s restroom,” said Miguel Contreras, a custodial staff member at USF. “There was this guy that just would not come out. I gave him a fifteen-minute warning but he stayed longer.” Contreras waited and waited only to see the student come out staring at his phone screen.
Ethics professor Greig Mulberry has noted that as soon as he dismisses class, students pull out their cellphones and stare at their screens. He believes that the reason students use their cellphones as often as they do is because they no longer enjoy being alone.
Professor Mulberry said that most students, who constantly use social media, fill any loneliness they may feel through Internet validation of their experiences. For example when someone posts a picture on the Internet and receives comments and likes, he or she feels connected to the people who like what he or she has shared.
Marta Drown, a sophomore international studies major, acknowledges that many students including herself, spend countless hours on their cellphones.
“Smartphones have so many uses that are either built-in or downloaded, that they have become your newspaper, computer with Internet access, gaming platform, and even your language tutor!” said Drown. “It’s not a surprise at all that most people are addicted to their cell phones.”
“I will be honest and say that I do depend on technology, but not as heavily as I believe other people do,” said Feneyda Guerrero, a sophomore media studies major. “I don’t always check my phone and it’s not constantly in my hand. I don’t freak out if I left my phone at home and I don’t panic if I don’t have my computer to watch Netflix.”
Freshman Emily Pinnell-Stewart grew up in Laytonville, Calif. and she did not get wireless internet until she was around 14.
“Even then [after I got wireless], it was still really, really slow. People complain about the speed here, but [compared to back home] it’s about ten times faster,” said Pinnell-Stewart. “You could only check your email or social networks. You couldn’t really play, like, youtube videos or anything.” Although she did not grow up with internet, Pinnell-Stewart finds that she uses the internet just as much other people who grew up it with it.
Other students argue that people do not need to be attached or dependent on technology.
“We make a conscientious effort to put down the devices,” said Liz Hernandez, a senior politics major. “[We] log off of these apps and sites and get ourselves outside exploring our environment, especially in a city a beautiful as San Francisco where there is always something to be done.”
Elizabeth Silva contributed to the reporting.