Pros and cons of smartphones and how our generation use them:

Today’s society is hugely influenced by the use of smartphones. This is from everyday life, with how we interact with friends and family on a personal level, to how businesses and politicians send out messages and updates to their customers and followers through social media posts. This is clear today with US President Donal Trumps twitter posts often being a hot topic of conversation amongst many.

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There are without doubts many positives through the use of smartphones. These are clear to see as everywhere you look there is always a number of people engulfed in their phones, and it’s not just the younger generation, it is now throughout all age groups, from younger siblings to parents and now even grandparents. I am going to take a look at the pros and cons, in relation to how my age group use smartphones.

First of all, the pros of smartphones, which you could argue is a never ending list of positives:

· The ability to connect with friends from all over the world. Whether it is a cousin in Australia or a friend in America, we can be face to face with them any time through the use of Facetime. We always stay in communication with these people through Facebook and Snapchat, making it a lot easier to keep relationships strong even though we may be thousands of miles apart.

· The use of a smart phone is something a lot of people could not do without. Friendship groups in today’s society resolve around a Whatsapp group. Everyday plans are made in these groups, and it is definitely the easiest way to stay in touch. All football teams or class group projects will often have a whatsapp group to send messages and updates.

· Another pro would be how you can keep all of your friends up to date on what you are doing with your life. Although some of your facebook friends mightn’t care if you climbed Slieve Donard at the weekend, it is still nice to be able to post this.

· The convenience would be a massive pro for me with a smartphone. Emails, online banking, google maps etc are just an example of some of the apps which make our lives a lot more simple. There is no need for sat navs or trips to the bank as all can be done through our smart phones.

There are without doubt many more pros, but I don’t want to turn this in to an essay.

Now for the cons:

I feel there are many cons within our age group from 16-35 of smartphones.

· They are incredibly addictive. Personally I am as bad as anyone. Throughout this post I have constantly been on my phone, on WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook just refreshing pages and reading posts which have no impact on my life. Also, this highlights how much of a distraction they are. Everything you do is interrupted by a notification on your phone. It is very hard to go a few hours without checking your phone.

· You hear people say phones have “ruined the art of conversation”. This amongst friendship groups my age is true. There could be 7 of us in a bar drinking pints, and at all times there are probably 4/5 people on their phones. Everything is put on Snapchat or Facebook and at times it becomes sickening. You could be going through Snapchat stories and see more or less the same thing on 4 different stories of the same 5 people.

· Another con would be that people can portray themselves as something they are not. We all have friends on Facebook or Instagram and they have a totally different way of going on online. So in a sense they’re people who can hide behind a smartphone and be seen as someone they are not. These apps can be seen as a way of convincing people your life is brilliant, and constantly look happy in all your posts and can disguise true emotions very well.

To listen to my list of cons you would swear I don’t do these things mentioned above, although I wouldn’t be as extreme as some people I still do this to an extent. To say I could do without a smart phone would be a lie. I am as reliant on it as the majority. But at times I can’t help but think it would be great if no one had them.CL1

 

Colum Loughran is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @ColumLoughran

The differences from placement year and final year:

Last year I was working on my placement year in Meteor Electrical in County Tyrone. A 5 minute drive from my home. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience working there and my placement year was definitely something I enjoyed doing. I knew coming back to university there would be a huge difference again as there are many changes in lifestyle from both years.

I have found it quite difficult to get back into the flow of University life after a year of placement. From working for a full year and getting a taste of the real working world, up each day in a set routine to coming back to University. I feel there are many key differences between the two years.

Whilst working on my placement year I was living at home with my parents. There was many differences with this compared to final year where I am back living with friends in Belfast. Each evening after work I came home to a warm welcoming home, with a nice dinner on the table. In Belfast you come back from a day in Uni to your “home” (a cold damp dungeon in the Holylands). And have to begin making your own dinner and fending for yourself. This was one of the key differences for me. Also by living at home you save yourself a lot of money. No rent, food costs, heat or electrical costs.

Another difference is the routine established on this year out. Up every morning at 8am, to start work at 9 and finish at 5. A structured day which you could easily plan around. This is different from Uni when you are only in class a few hours a week. I found it a lot easier to get motivated to go to work. You must be there every day of the week, whereas at Uni it is very easy to lie on in bed, and waste a day doing nothing when you don’t have class to go to.

Living at home with work in the morning I also felt there was a lot less temptations. During the week if you asked one of your friends to go for pints on a Tuesday night they would think you aren’t wise. There would be no one in our local bar on a Tuesday night, where as in Belfast it is buzzing every night of the week, and therefore very easy to go out a few times a week, especially living with your friends.

The main difference I feel though is actually getting back into the University work. With deadlines fast approaching it is time to begin writing essays, searching for references and revising for tests. After over a year out of this routine it is hard to get back into the flow of this academic work. After 5 o’clock each day that was work forgot about until the next morning. Whereas with Uni if you have a deadline it must be met, regardless of time.

Although I really enjoyed placement year and am excited to finish my education in 6 months’ time, I feel there will never be a more enjoyable time in my life than University. It is true that it definitely is the best days of your life. Although now it is time to really get into the Uni work and make sure it was worth it, by having a great time and meeting new friends over the 4 years, but also graduating with a good degree and setting yourself up well for the future. In 5 years time when everyone is working full time we will look back fondly on the Uni days and wish we could go out every night of the week again and have the time of our lives.

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Colum Loughran is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @ColumLoughran

Gambling in today’s society…

Gambling in today’s society is everywhere we look. It is no longer just high street bookmakers where you can go to place a bet. It is accessible at all times and is becoming a huge problem and ruining the lives of many. If you want to gamble you can do it at any time, which leads to huge financial problems for many.

Whether it is going to a bookies to place a bet, going into the pub for a pint and playing a fruit machine or playing cards with friends, you can gamble on anything and at times lose a substantial amount of money. Within our generation it is always a topic of conversation. You go into the bookies and it is almost like a social gathering spot, with many of your friends there placing bets and seeming to enjoy themselves, however gambling is a very silent killer for many. It knows no boundaries, and is getting worse constantly. Gambling is advertised and marketed for you to get the belief you will win money. You see many adverts saying place a £10 bet and get £30 in free bets online, this seems like an offer you can’t refuse. At the time, yes this is a good offer, however this gives a bookmaker access to you at all times. Now that you have an online account you can bet at any time, and in your eyes, win money at any time, however this is not the case, you are likely to lose a lot more than you win. The bookie is always going to be the winner.

 

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So why is this such a problem and so popular?

Northern Ireland has the worst rate within the UK for problem gamblers. This statistic was recorded in 2016 by the charity CARE for Northern Ireland. Gambling is such an issue because it is everywhere we look, at times people are gambling without realising, and at all age groups. If you’re in the shop and buy a scratch card you are gambling, but wouldn’t consider it. An elderly woman going to the bingo a few nights a week would not truly believe they are gambling, but more socialising, this highlights to us how popular gambling is today, and how accessible it is. It literally ruins the lives of many. It is a problem which can be undetectable. You can keep it to yourself and lose everything. Friends, family, jobs, homes, everything. Unlike other addictions like drink and drugs, it is hard to know a gambling addict. They could be sitting quietly losing hundreds of pounds on their smart phones, without anyone knowing. This leads to severe depression and suicide if it gets bad enough.

It is very easy to become addicted to gambling. You could have an interest in soccer and one weekend do a soccer bet and win some money from your first bet, and then become hooked. You are constantly trying to replicate a buzz you once felt, and it will come to a stage where this is impossible. For a gambler, it will never be enough. There are many social events which involve gambling. For example, a staff do at the horse or dog racing. Events such as these can give you the taste for gambling and suddenly a problem you never believed would be associated with you, is now a real problem in your life.

 

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It is an issue that is only getting worse and without some sort of intervention, it will continue to grow. It is constantly advertised and targeted to draw people in. There are constant television adverts which encourage you to gamble and constantly advertising promotions for new customer specials that seemingly can’t lose. The bookies are giving you “free money” to draw you in. We have seen many real-life examples of celebrities whose lives have been destroyed by gambling, from local GAA stars to millionaire soccer players. It will affect you at all times. It won’t matter whether you are a millionaire or have £10 to your name, you will gamble what is available and lose everything if you cannot control it. Unless there is something implemented by the government soon, it will continue to get worse, and continue to be the silent killer for many.

Colum Loughran is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @ColumLoughran