POST TWO: Me, myself and my phone.


I picked an article called “Are Teenagers Replacing Drugs With Smartphones?” published in The NewYorkTimes on March 13, 2017. Throughout this article, Matt Richtel is analyzing the idea that teenagers could be using less drugs because they spend more time on their smartphones. Effectively, the author thinks that American teenagers are consuming less drugs including alcohol than they used to. However, the reasons are is still unknown; certain researchers believe that because people smoke fewer cigarettes, they are less likely to use drugs. Other people state that anti-drug education campaigns are finally starting to bear fruit. What’s interesting is that some researches are wondering if the use of drugs has been decreasing among young people because they spend more time on their smartphones and computer.

According to the author, this could be possible because the use of smartphones has increased while drug use has diminished.

In addition, Nora Volkow described interactive media as an alternative to drugs, because teenagers can get high when playing games. The only issue is that up until now, nothing has been confirmed. As a matter of fact, research on the topic will start in a couple of months.


I’m still very skeptical about the correlation between drug use and the time spend on smartphone; correlation does not mean causation. I don’t think the author was effective in persuading the readers of his points. He did use rhetorical devices such as pathos, logos , and ethos, but still was not very convincng.


According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration “In 2015, 4.2 percent of teenagers ages 12 to 17 reported smoking a cigarette in the last month, down from 10.8 percent in 2005” (Richtel). By giving out this statistic, Matt Richtel is trying to appeal to pathos. The survey also show that “past-month alcohol use among 12- to 17-year-olds had fallen to 9.6 percent from 16.5 percent, while rising slightly for young adults ages 18 to 25” (Richtel). This illustrates an attempt to provide evidence. Effectively, providing statistics from an authoritative source is more legitimate and professional and thus somehow trustworthy; this is a great way to convince an audience.


The author also uses ethos. Effectively, he is reaching across the board and trying to relate to the reader, in this case, the teenager. He knows that a lot of teenagers will share the same opinion. For instance, when he wrote, “However, she said, the phone provides a valuable tool for people at parties who don’t want to do drugs because “you can sit around and look like you’re doing something, even if you’re not doing something, like just surfing the web.” In this case, he is trying to trigger an emotional response by using the words of a teenager. First of all, it will most likely appeal to younger people who read this because they might see themselves, and also certain parents might see a correlation between their children having a smartphone and them using drugs. This example also illustrate the use of pathos; by giving an emotional sense to his argument, the author is hoping to trigger a positive reaction so that his readers are more lenient to agree. As a matter of fact, no parents would ever want his children to do drugs.


Finally, the author is also using logos to appeal to logic and thus convince his audience.“There is very little hard, definitive evidence on the subject,” said James Anthony, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Michigan State University and an expert on drug-use behavior. The author uses an expert on drug use which somehow makes it more credible. Later on, he said that he has begun wondering about the role of technology on youth drug use: “You’d have to be an idiot not to think about it.” This quote illustrate perfectly the use of pathos. He is saying that as if it was making complete sense. It has the effect intended, after reading that, the lectors do not want to be categorized as idiots and could agree more likely.


All in all, I think the author did a good job not to settle for only one rhetorical device. By using, ethos, pathos and logos, the author is appealing to ethics, emotions, as well as logic. Some people are more affected with emotions whereas others need some ethic such as statistical facts. Therefore, the author might be able to convince more people if they agree. In addition, he showed both sided of the situation. I do agree that the cellphone could be considered as a drug, however, I do not think it causes drug use to decrease. In addition, the sentence “But researchers are starting to ponder an intriguing question” (Ritchel), or “she plans to begin research on the topic in the next few months” (Volkow) show a total lack of knowledge or concrete information. In fact, most of the arguments are hypothesis that cannot be backed up.

What if there was absolutely no correlation in between drug use, and the amount of time spent on smartphone? After all, the arrival of the smartphone made it easier for everyone to obtain drugs. There are some conflicting data as well. “While drug use has fallen among youths ages 12 to 17, it hasn’t declined among college students”, said Dr. Sion Kim Harris.

To conclude, the author does not give a clear answer wether drugs are being replace by smartphones, but instead he’s trying to raise the question wether teenagers could be using less drugs because they spend more time on their smartphones.

I believe that the author should have waited a couple of months in order to be more informed about the topic.

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