Can Samsung's Latest Phone Help Users Kick Their Data Addiction?

It has everything you could ever want from a smartphone –– except an internet connection.

Today's teenagers don't know what it's like to live in a world without mobile phones. Despite the fact that the first iPhone wasn't introduced until 2007, they've never had to race to the nearest payphone in response to their pager's incessant beeps, and they've never had to pay 10 cents for every text message sent and received. Thus, while Samsung's latest addition to the Galaxy J lineup might look like the smartphones everyone's come to know, for the younger set, this particular model might seem antiquated as it lacks one key component: an internet connection.

That's right! Samsung's Galaxy J2 Pro exhibits all the functionalities of your average smartphone without actually being all that smart. Designed specifically with students and seniors in mind, this new gadget aims to eliminate distractions in an effort to improve focus, especially among teens, as heavy internet usage can lead to burnout. As expected, Twitter users were quick to share their (surprisingly positive) reactions to this announcement:

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Unfortunately, however, the Samsung Galaxy J2 can only be found in South Korea at the moment, and there's no evidence that this device will ever arrive stateside. But, as Dami Lee of The Verge writes, the test market seems like the prime target for this sort of gadget.

"Every year, high school seniors in South Korea take a national college entrance exam called suneung that will essentially determine the rest of their lives. This isn't an exaggeration," Lee explains. "Unlike the SATs, which only play a small part in college admissions, the idea of suneung is battered into students' heads as the determining factor of how successful they'll be in a deeply hierarchical society. That's why it makes sense that Samsung is releasing a smartphone that can't connect to the internet, so students don't get distracted and can focus on studying."

Once students have completed this pivotal test, they can then take advantage of Samsung's current promotion. According to Lee, students taking the 2019 and 2020 suneung exam can trade the device for a Galaxy S, Note, or A-series phone (released after 2018) and have the cost of the J2 Pro reimbursed. 

"There are no plans to sell the phone outside of South Korea yet, but there's probably no other country where test-taking is taken this seriously," Lee adds.

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Yet, while American students might not be quite as consumed by their studies as their South Korean counterparts, they could benefit from this distraction-free device just the same. On average, 38 percent of teens admit they couldn't go an entire day without checking their smartphone. National Public Radio (NPR) reports another study that suggests teens' symptoms of depression, suicide risk factors, and suicide rates rose dramatically in 2012 — around the time when smartphones became popular. Researcher Jean Twenge says that teens who spend five or more hours per day on their devices are 71 percent more likely to have one risk factor for suicide regardless of the content consumed. Therefore, it's the amount of screen time, not the specific content, that leads to higher rates of depression.

"It's an excessive amount of time spent on the device. So half an hour, an hour a day, that seemed to be the sweet spot for teen mental health in terms of electronic devices," Twenge told NPR. "At two hours a day there was only a slightly elevated risk. And then three hours a day and beyond is where you saw the more pronounced increase in those who had at least one suicide risk factor."

Another study, conducted by Douglas Gentile, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University and a leading expert on the effects of media on children and adults, notes that parental monitoring of kids' media use led to improved sleep, decreased body mass index, and better grades. While the impact might not seem immediate, Gentile notes that the "ripple effect" will inevitably lead to a wide range of health and wellness benefits.

Thus, despite the fact that the Samsung Galaxy J2 Pro might not be available in the U.S., the concept might serve as inspiration for those who long for the simplicity of yesteryear and those who need to reduce the number of distractions tugging at them throughout the day. Perhaps we'd all be a little happier and nicer if we stopped looking at our phones every now and then and looked at the people around us instead.

Cover image via rawpixel.com / Pexels

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