Smart phones: convenient distractions?

Smartphones are sweeping the Nation.  They’re popping up everywhere, including Dordt. Even impoverished, rural villages in Africa can afford simple cellphones for a few dollars a month, so acquiring a fancy 3G or 4G smartphone just keeps getting easier.  New models of the iPhone make the older models decrease in price.  New apps developed every day making the phones’ potential endless.

The recent surge of smartphone technology has even created a psychological panic, called nomophobia, which defines those who have a diagnosed fear of being without a cellphone.  U.S. News reported that 77% of those suffering from nomophobia are between the ages of 18 and 24, the same age range as that most college students.

Step foot onto Dordt’s campus, where smartphones seem to be having the same profound effect.  Although smartphones may not be required or even necessary on the small campus with a plethora of computers in every academic building and almost all residential buildings, plenty of students and professors seem to be using the new technology for everything from checking emails on the way to class, Googling questions that may come up in conversation, and tweeting the latest crazy quote from Professor DeRoo.

Senior Ashleigh Minderhoud has loved having a smartphone as a nursing major. She can check class emails on the drive to Sioux City and quickly look up any questions needing an answer.  Minderhoud also enjoys the variety of applications that smartphone technologies boast.

Freshman Seth Steenwyk is on the opposite side of the smartphone world from Minderhoud.  Although Steenwyk doesn’t have his own smartphone, he admits that there are definitely benefits to having a smartphone, one being the ability to “research things quickly and have quicker access than computers.”

Even recent Dordt graduates have quickly found out the importance of smartphones in the world beyond undergraduate studies.  Nicole Scholten and Joe Lammers, both 2012 graduates, recently purchased iPhones to assist in their “real life” after Dordt.

Scholten, who graduated with degrees in elementary and middle school education, now teaches middle school science at Westminster Christian Academy, a rigorously academic school in St. Louis, Missouri.  Although Scholten was not required to purchase a smartphone, she quickly realized that because of parental pressures and immediate communication often required, an iPhone was the way to go.

Similarly, Joe Lammers, a biology undergraduate and current first-year student in the Physicians’ Assistant program at the University of Colorado in Denver, found an iPhone to be a necessity.  “Professors will change the location of a class minutes before the class starts,” Lammers shared.  “I have to be able to get emails and updates instantly.”

Regardless of whether or not college students and professionals are willing to fork out the money for the latest smartphone, the changing technological world seems to be making their use much more of a requirement.  Although smartphones don’t seem to be quite as prevalent or necessary on Dordt’s campus as in the rest of society, they do seem to make life a little more efficient and manageable.

Kristin Janssen, Staff Writer

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