One of the most fascinating trends in recent years has been watching the way smartphones have taken over people’s lives. Smartphones are highly addictive. They have apps that have you interacting with others using the same sort of phone. Many more people these days are no longer listening to what’s being said to them. Look at people in cafes, bars and train stations around town and you’ll find that they’re no longer talking, their looking at their phones. Instead of communicating orally, more people are staying in touch with each other through different portals. Technology also limits people’s access to printed books, just in terms of time. Smartphones are terrific for multi-tasking and presenting people with information but they a’re a real game-changer. How do we stop them from ruining our lives?
The first thing to do is to check to see if you’re addicted. Take a look at this short guide. Do you use all the apps you’ve installed? Have you cut back on necessities to afford your mobile phone bill? Does a battery charge hardly last a day? Does it feel like you’ve lost a friend when you’ve broken it or misplaced it? Do you feel a moment of panic when you can’t feel it in your pocket? Do you use it in the bathroom?
I would add a few questions of my own. Do you sleep with your smartphone? Is it the last thing you look at when you go to sleep, and the first thing when you wake up? Do you keep using it or taking it out to check when you’re out with people?
According to one British study, cited by Mashable magazine, 37 per cent of adults and 60 per cent of teens admit they are highly addicted to their smartphones, 23 per cent of teenagers claim to watch less TV and 15 per cent admit they read fewer books as a result of their smartphone use. Also, 51 per cent of adults and 65 per cent of teens say they have used their smartphone while socialising with others while 23 per cent of adults and 34 per cent of teens have used their smartphones during mealtimes. Worse still, 22 per cent of adults and 47 per cent of teens admitted using or answering their smartphone while in the bathroom.
Obviously we have a problem. And it’s going to get worse. As reported here, a World Bank report has found that soon there will be more phones than people. It estimates that by 2015 there will be 7.5 billion people in the world and nearly nine billion mobile subscriptions. And you can bet many of those will be smartphones.
So how do we cope with this and stop it from taking over our lives? Psychology professor Jim Taylor suggests going cold turkey but if that’s not your cup of tea, he says, you could always wean yourself off it by having in place limits like such as no technology at the dinner table or not bringing your phone with you when you exercise. Eventually you can even have “no technology” days, say on a Sunday. Leslie Perlow at the Harvard Business Review suggests getting together more often with people you interact with to get into those long conversations without technology.
What strategies would you suggest to stop the smartphone taking over our lives?