Debate: Are Smartphones Making Us Stupid?

Could smartphones be negatively affecting your life?


Quick! When is the last time you remembered the name of that movie without consulting IMDB? Sure, smartphones make our lives easier, but some experts think that the more they distract us—and the more we rely on Google for guidance—the less we’re forced to tap our own brainpower. So are smartphones holding us back? Two teens weigh in…


 YES:  Smartphones kill our focus and make it harder to learn.

I love my smartphone. I do. But everywhere you look, people are glued to their screens—and we’re all missing out on opportunities to notice and appreciate the world around us.

This smartphone addiction is seriously affecting our ability to focus too.

I can’t even watch a movie without checking my phone, which means nothing ever receives my full attention. That’s scary, especially in a school context. I’m afraid it affects the quality of my work and how well I learn.

I also worry about my dependence on my phone for managing my to-do lists, getting directions from map apps, and more. So it turned out to be a relief when I went on a school trip last year and couldn’t use my phone. I made it a week, but see if you can survive one day. You’ll be surprised. Your brain can be just as powerful as Google!

— Tara Subramaniam, 17, A high school senior in Atlanta, GA

 NO:  Smartphones feed us knowledge and foster important conversations.

Smartphones encourage us to think more and act as a readily available source of infinite information—a way to quickly research topics we hear others talking about. Say you’re with your friends and they’re discussing a current event you know nothing about. You can use your phone to get up to speed, then participate in that conversation—instead of sitting idly by.

Smartphones are also a way to find people who have the same interests and goals. For example, I love making YouTube videos, but nobody at my school does. So my phone allows me to connect with other YouTubers—and learn from them too.

That’s why I want you to pick up your phone, tweet at a person who’s talking about something you love, and start a conversation. Your world will instantly get bigger—straight from the palm of your hand.

— Danny Fratella, 16, a high school student in Covington, WA

Join the Conversation!

Special thanks to our monthly debate partner, HuffPost Teen. To debate this topic and others—and to check out more teen writing on the issues that matter to you—head to, or follow @HuffPostTeen on Twitter!

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