This excerpt was originally published on my graduate studies site in which I’m exploring concepts of interactive media, social media and smartphone use. That’s right, on top of a full-time job and being a toddler mom, I’m in school too. Enjoy!
It’s hard to say whether the smartphone’s introduction nearly 26 years ago was a positive or negative for society as we know it. Obsession and addiction to our devices has crumbled relationships, inhibited our learning ability and, in some cases, presented real danger to our health.
For all of the convenience of having these magic machines in our palms, there is a cost. Financially, a single smartphone currently runs upward of $1,000 before data plans and cell service, accessories and upgrades. Without insurance, one quick slip of the hand and our smartphones — and wallets — shatter, forcing us to spend again because we cannot imagine a life without these “phones.” On a rotational basis, the makers of these devices release the latest versions, spinning us into cycles of considering which smartphone was made for us and how badly we need the newest and greatest model.
But actual money aside, the price to pay for incessant smartphone use is far greater. It’s a loss of “being in the moment” and cognitive awareness of surroundings. It’s missing milestones of our children and loved ones and damaging our brains in the way of knowledge growth, leaving us less capable to educate future generations.
All hope is not lost, but we need to be smart about our smartphone use. We need to know when to truly unplug and become aware of when we’re swiping screens out of habit and not necessity. We need to turn to our smartphones to improve our lives, not to overpower them. We need to keep mental lists of when and why we would turn to our devices with questions, and challenge our minds to at least try to come up with solutions based on our historical knowledge before seeking the easy answer on Google.
And if we do all of this, our smartphones will become a welcomed part of human evolution. We will be able to look back on this phase of our history proudly knowing that we, the humans, shaped technology and the technology did not shape us.
To learn more about how we, as a society, can work to control our devices before they control us, check out my white paper, “Our Social Responsibility to Fight Smartphone Devolution.”