BALTIMORE -- Is dumb the new smart? Young people are starting to ditch their smartphones as they look for new ways to unplug.
Spurred by a desire to "digital detox," there's a growing movement among Generation Z to do away with smartphones and revert back to "dumb phones" like old-school flip or slide phones.
It's all part of a desire to "digital detox."
Greg Hoplamazia is the Academic Director of the Emerging Media Program at Loyola University Maryland.
"What younger people are doing is recognizing that it's okay to stand out from the norm," said Greg Hoplamazia, the Academic Director of the Emerging Media Program at Loyola University Maryland. It's okay to do something that's not mainstream and not engage with social media, not be on their phones all the time."
It's getting harder to truly unplug in a tech-dominated world, but a "dumb phone" could help us balance the scale just a little bit.
"Young people themselves are kind of self-censoring and saying 'I don't really need the negative mental health and social harms that come with an always-connected life,'"Hoplamazia said.
"Dumb phones" are early 2000s technology - basic handsets or feature phones with very limited functionality compared to say - a modern iPhone or Android.
You can make calls and texts on the simple devices, and that's about it.
"People are purposefully seeking out that lower functionality so they can resist the constant need to be online," Hoplamazia said.
Mobile tech companies are reporting climbing sales figures for their most basic mobile phones - such as Nokia flip phones - thanks to Gen Z.
Ironically, posts on social media giant TikTok are helping spur the movement.
"My friends and I only take our flip phones out-- we dont take our regular phones out anymore," a teen said in one TikTok post. "Because we realize that every single problem we have on a night out stems from being on our phone."
"I'm switching to flip phone for 30 days and documenting the change that it has on my day-to-day life," another poster said.
It comes as the United States surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, issued a new advisory last week warning of the mental health effects of social media on young people.
Hoplamazia thinks this shift in culture could have a positive impact on society as a whole.
"Any amount of people that avoid the constant allure of the internet always being in their pocket - that's probably going to be good for their personal health - mentally and physically," he said.
As we continue to evolve and emerge in the digital world, he says it's all about balance. Here's a good rule to follow:
"I think if we're more honest with ourselves about what actual benefit are we getting from something, and if we don't have a really long list of strong benefits from a particular technology or app or website, we should probably try to argue to ourselves to discontinue it," Hoplamazia said.
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