Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Phone zone

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BATON ROUGE - For awhile now, cell phones and people have been competing for attention.

More than 85 percent of the population has a cell phone or tablet that goes with them every where they go. Kids yet to reach their teenage years may even carry a phone.

It's called a phone, but that's not it's most common use. Since smart phones, texting now rules all. Making a phone call is actually its sixth most used function.

Phones are used everywhere, including in line at the bank or at the table in a restaurant. More often, phones are showing up next to a plate of food, ready to answer in case it rings or vibrates or to snap a photo.

Server Kendra Langlois at Mestizo in Baton Rouge says she sees it all the time at work.

"Sometimes they're texting, a lot of times they're actually talking on the phone, as another person is there," said Langlois. "Even people on dates, I assume they're on a date, and both of them are just on their phone."

Texting, talking, posting, reading, emailing, searching; it's all happening because we can and it's available.

Cell phones have a world of uses, including keeping track of your diet and exercise, health information, appointments, to compare prices, look for directions and even watch television. It's fast, convenient and available.

"Why do you need to check your phone so much anyway, are you that important?" asked Social Etiquette Expert Marthanne Calvi.

According to screen lock app Locket, the average person checks or unlocks their phone 110 times a day. Some users check their phone many times that number, some every few seconds.

"I guess I'm trying to see what everyone's doing, trying to stay in the loop," said LSU student Amy Babineaux. "I'll be on it, I don't necessarily ... well, I'll check the time."

Babineaux alludes that she checks her phone subconsciously.

"We've gotten I think where people now don't know how to talk to other people," said Calvi.

The average American stares at a screen for 7.4 hours a day, a number put together by Kleiner Perkins Internet. Often times, that number breaks down to computer, phone and TV. It might be that a job requires it, but a lot of the time it's because it's just how the world has started acting.

"We have a generation that does not want to deal face-to-face with other people," said Calvi. "They are simply more comfortable with that machine."

More comfortable or because it's more entertaining. A human's attention span has been decreasing with the increase of technology and social tools. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds in the matter of just a few years. The average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds.

Loretta Pecchioni teaches an LSU course on social networks, focusing on how others influence relationships. "I ask my students what life would be like without your phone and they cannot imagine it," she said.

According to the Pew Research Internet project, 29 percent of cell phone owners can't imagine living without their device.

Many of Pecchioni's students use phones and laptops while in class. They're taking notes, others are texting or doing other things. They discuss the channels of communication they use, but say they miss out on face-to-face interaction.

"They don't have an accidental conversation with the person standing next to them," said Pecchioni.

While on a phone, more people are getting into accidents, including car wrecks and bodily injuries from not paying attention to where one is walking.

Pecchioni said for established relationships, a cell phone is good for keeping in touch. While creating new ones, it's more problematic.

"That immediate interaction I think is missing and just the chance, the chance encounter," she said.


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