I can guarantee that all of you reading this has looked down at your phone in order to ignore someone, not make eye contact with someone, or seem busy in order to avoid an uncomfortable situation.
For most students, the phone makes them feel safe from judgement, potential threats, awkward conversations, or other undesired situations. When people are nervous they try not to make it obvious. You will likely pull out your phone or plug in headphones to listen to music in such situations. This is because students feel comfortable when they have their phone handy, especially when they have to walk around campus, places in the dark, or unfamiliar areas.
“If I am trying to avoid someone, I just put my headphones in. Even if I am not listening to music. I just don’t want to talk to you.”-SJU Student 2021
The phone is a gateway to so much more, that ultimately removes us from our reality to place our mind in an environment we want to be in. In such cases when students are shy or have social anxiety, there is nothing like your smartphone easily available to comfort you. Being on your phone in public is a way for students to retreat for entertainment, social, or academic purposes. Simply go onto YouTube, listen to Spotify, text a friend, or scroll through Instagram to feel comfort in such situations.
Take a look next time you walk around campus. Every student has their phone in their hand right? Try to count the students that do NOT have phones in their hand… From my walk from Campion to Merion, I passed about 40 students, with only 11 students not holding their phone.
Not only does your phone allow you to avoid awkwardness or undesired situations, it is relied on for safety. The iPhone has multiple safety features that can help you in scary situations. For example, if you hold down the side power button and the volume buttons and alert will sound for 5 seconds then it will automatically call 911. Safety features like this are very handy, but incredibly relied upon.
Does having your phone near you really make you feel safe? Picture if you were in a dangerous situation such as a car accident. Your first response might be to make sure you, your passengers, and others involved were unharmed. Then you may call 911 if need be. Now, what if you didn’t have your phone? How would you notify emergency services? Nowadays there is such a reliance on technology that people could not go a whole day without it.
“I could not leave my apartment without my phone. My sophomore year, my phone got water in it and broke. I skipped all of my classes until I got a new phone”-SJU Student 2022
A smart phone ultimately connects you to anyone and everyone. People unconsciously realize that their phone makes them feel safe. The phone is merely an extension of the body. Just like any other appendage, people go everywhere with their phone. It allows them to feel comfortable and safe, yet it is just a steel rectangle. 10 years ago, people did not rely on their smartphones for such things.
If you’re ever feel unsafe there are many safety apps like Citizen & SJU Safe that can help you. Citizen is an app that shows all of the incidents and crime in your surrounding area. On Citizen’s feed, you are able to see the incident itself, the time it occurred, its distance from your location, message others to communicate what’s happening, and realize how truly dangerous the situation is. SJU Safe is an app for Saint Joseph’s University Students to report sketchy activity and request assistance from public safety. You are also able to call SJU Public Safety when feeling uncomfortable.
“My RA made all the students on my floor save the SJU Pub Safe phone number on our phones, and I am so glad I did. One time my freshman year I was walking to LaFarge late at night when it was dark out. I saw a sketchy truck circle the Campion parking lot even though it was empty. I called SJU Public Safety because I was scared and they tracked my location to make sure I got home safe”-SJU Student 2022
Your cell phone provides so much to you. Technology provides safety features that can truly make a difference. People rely on their phones to get out of undesired situations. Next time try and see how many students actually walk around campus with their phones in their hand… you’d be surprised too.