<By Kyle Cruz, Giany Discar, Kenrik Ng, Michelle Parlan, Alexio Tabafunda, Maxine Trinidad>
“Stop using your phone!!” We’ve all heard these words thrown around a couple of times. We’re usually texting someone, crushing candies and jellies, or simply tweeting while the person who said that wants our undivided attention. Some people say that smartphones are too excessive and that they’re literally everywhere. iPhones, Samsung Galaxies, and Blackberries are just some of the most powerful devices that we, as consumers, have been granted access to.
Starting in 1994, mobile phones with certain operating systems were sold to the general public. Before that year, people say that the times were much “simpler”. When you needed to talk to someone, you had to walk all the way until you see his or her face. The thing is, smartphones were designed to make things simpler. Now, you only need one device to call someone, listen to music, surf the internet, and play games. You can even check your bank account on-the-go with a smartphone.
Smartphones are evidences of human evolution through technology. We’ve developed the ultimate multi-tasking tool that can really help us manage our time better and more efficiently… if only we could ever stop running away from those evil demon monkeys…
REVOLUTIONIZING MODERN COMMUNICATION
With communication technology improving through the years, our cellphones have evolved from the traditional call-and-text function to a more multipurpose digital framework, now known as the smartphone. It is by all means much more advanced than its previous generations – aside from being the solution to one’s computing and communication needs, you can now watch movies, listen to music, browse the web, and play games, among other multipurpose functions. It’s a computer that fits in one’s pocket, an entertainment portal on-the-go, and currently all the rage in today’s market. Almost everything and anything in the world is now accessible in the palm of our hands. Just by the mere ability to browse the web; to check Facebook, twitter, as well as the news makes it a very powerful tool for easy and fast communication with one another, as well as a gateway to the world.
The smartphone evidently changed the course of modern communication. In sending messages, what was once something that can be received a couple of hours after it was sent can now be accessed in a matter of minutes, if not instantly. This has opened various possibilities in interconnectedness. The world becomes smaller as friends and relatives, may they be out of town or even on the other side of the world can now be easily reached with just a dial. Communication in businesses is now stronger than ever with sales being distributed right after a client’s call and services realized soon after a customer’s instant message. In a student’s context, information dissemination has never been easier with the internet now available in every smartphone holder’s hands. Students get real time updates from their professors, group discussions are continued or held on social media, and of course, doing assignments have never been more convenient with various apps and search engines readily available.
Smartphones have also helped in organizing daily tasks easier as managing notes, schedules, and to-do’s are all readily available in a single gadget. It also has the ability to synchronize one’s files in the smartphone to one’s own desktop/laptop. With the ever growing users of smartphones, researchers have suggested that owning such a kind of phone may even become a necessity in the near future due to its potential in solving just about any communication-related situation that the now fast-paced world demands (Lohr, 2009)
LUXURY AND THE NEW STATUS SYMBOL
Owning a smartphone is a luxury that not everyone can have. Smartphones are still expensive even with cheaper versions coming out. A popular notion with smartphones is that they are now a factor of a person’s status in the social ladder. Today’s teenagers are the ones primarily involved with this notion in that they usually use these phones only for social networking, texting, calling and gaming. By using them only for these functions, they miss out on using the full potential of smartphones. Instead of using them for more intended purposes like its role for advanced interconnectivity, they use them for narcissistic, not to mention pathetic purposes.
Not saying that everyone does it, but smartphones can be used to boast about one’s wealth. Showing-off something as expensive as an iPhone 5 will probably give someone attention and praise. There are also those who use their phones to take pictures of themselves unnecessarily to show them off to other people and gain popularity in social networks. Using smartphones only for these reasons defeats the point of getting one for its many uses.
THE GROWING NECESSITY
For those who have smartphones and have become attached to them, they already see their gadgets as necessities in life. The growing pace of life almost requires them to have all their information and knowledge on-the-go, which is why they input everything in their gadgets. For example, some people’s lives depend on the schedule they’ve put in their calendar and “to-do list” apps. These apps allow their users to be always connected and reachable through social networks and telecommunications. (Lohr, 2009) Their lives are made easier and more efficient by the powerful functions of their phones.
These people are usually businessmen, people/event managers, agents and other busy people. Obviously, these people won’t die if they lose their smartphones. Sure, their lives without the smartphones would be less convenient and slower, but they could still compensate for their functions with the use of wit and practical methods. One could just simply list his schedule in a planner and write his grocery list in a random piece of paper but for those who don’t, their smartphones aren’t just fancy gadgets that can do a lot of stuff, they’re investments. They pay for them and in return they are provided with ease and efficiency.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Greet your sibling or parents good morning? No. You check your phone. An article in WebMD claims that “70% said they check their smartphone within an hour of getting up” while “56% check their phone within an hour of going to sleep.” This just shows that one of the most pressing consequences of the rise of smartphones is addiction. Last year, Time magazine reported the results of a survey that found that “1 in 4 people check (their phone) every 30 minutes, 1 in 5 every 10 minutes,” while “a third of respondents admitted that being without their mobile for even short periods leaves them feeling anxious.” A lot of us hold on to our phones most of the time as if it were our lives. We even have the sensation of feeling our phones vibrate or hearing it ring, only to find out that we didn’t receive any.
Have you ever played a game that seems so awesome, you couldn’t put it down? People crave for games that they can relate to and only those that can tingle their senses, like Candy Crush and Temple Run, have the ability to hypnotize them into playing, literally anywhere and anytime. According to a survey by The Guardian, 47% of teenagers admitting to using their device in the toilet, while only 22% of adults confessed to the same habit. Wait, isn’t it normal for people to use their smartphones in the toilet? Nevermind.
Our minds are starting to mess with us. Even during the times that we need to pay attention to something, our eyes can’t help but stay glued to our smartphone screens. We no longer seem to realize that what we’re doing with our lives right now is important. But why would we? The life we’ve made up through the addictive games we play on our smartphones seem so much better than our actual lives.
Aside from games, addiction to smartphones also stems from the rise of social networking sites. Contrary to the games we play, these sites seem to make us want to prove to the world, or our contacts online, that we do have a life, and it’s awesome, or at least we think it is. We all know that girl who posts her outfits everyday with the #ootd (outfit of the day) or #tbt (throwback thursdays) hashtags. Or that guy who always has to Instagram the food he’s stuffing himself with and make everyone crave what they’re missing. Or that dude who has to rant about every little detail about his life and 140 characters won’t be able to limit him. Or that could be you. You have to have done at least one of these. But hey, as long as it’s in moderation, right?
THE INTERRUPTED LIFE
As if addiction wasn’t enough, from it stems all sorts of behavior changes such as the lack of communicating face-to-face, the reluctance to be more active outside, the ‘interrupted life’ and shorter attention spans to name a few.
The main issue here is what’s been called as the ‘interrupted life.’ The majority of our population have become so attached to their social networking sites and applications and games on their smartphones that they are unable to live life as it is.
It started out with the computer. Then the internet. Children then became isolated and secluded indoors. They weren’t interested in playing tag outside with the other neighborhood children anymore. Teenagers weren’t interested in partying or hanging out for real with their friends anymore. They all became glued to a different reality – a virtual reality.
In time, people roamed about again, but that’s only because their virtual life is now portable. And even though they roam about and meet with their friends or their relatives, do people still communicate the old-fashioned way anymore?
During lunch with a group of friends, someone will most likely interrupt to take a picture of the group or of their food to post to Instagram or Twitter before eating. In between snippets of actual conversation, everyone will periodically check their phones for texts, calls, or a new Facebook notification, which breaks up the communication between themselves.
Even when a person is alone studying or working, he or she will interrupt his or herself in order to check their phone. Even in the presence of talking face to face, people will interrupt it for the very device that is meant to make real conversation more efficient and easy especially with people far away from the user. Oh the irony.
From this spawns our generation’s short attention span. Talking to a friend who’s listening intently when all of sudden her phone pings and she tunes you out to read a message or browse through Facebook. Nowadays, nothing’s more interesting than the attention that can be found within that tiny screen. The addiction has overshadowed the intended purpose they were originally created for.
AN INCURABLE EPIDEMIC!?!?
There is no doubt that the use of smartphones by children and adults alike would result in some nasty side effects. Sure, they’re useful, especially with wi-fi becoming available almost everywhere; smartphones give you the ability to access the world’s information at a press of a button. But at what cost? With the revolutionary change in the way we communicate today, making things easier, faster, more efficient, smartphones have also hindered it. We are able to keep in contact with friends and family throughout the world through our phones and the internet, but what of the people in our immediate vicinity? Does this mean that people should revert back to the black and white-colored indestructible Nokias from the past?
Addiction is the key word here. Drug addicts use drugs because they like feeling high. Alcoholics continue to drink because they like the numbness of feeling drunk. Smokers continue to smoke because of the relief from stress that it provides. People continue checking their phones because of the ego-boost that results from being messaged, or being tagged or added by a person on Twitter or Facebook. And so what the world has now is a generation of egotistical, socially inept people with shorter attention spans, mechanically updating, tweeting, commenting, liking, texting and candy crushing like clockwork.
ADAPTING TO THE INEVITABLE
There is a way to control it though. Like all other addictions, there is always a way out of it. However, because of the important role that a phone does play in the important aspects of our lives, such as work, we cannot truly let it go unless the whole of society does, and so experts have devised a way to simply manage the condition rather than curing it.
There are three things to keep in mind. First of all, ask yourself: why do you feel the need to check your phone every time it beeps or vibrates? Take a minute to analyze yourself. Is it because you’re bored? Do you crave attention from your online peers that you don’t get in real life interaction with real people? Figure it out, because there may be a less detrimental fix to your needs. A hobby might help. The second and third points tie together. Try to be strong and to be disciplined. Mute your phone or simply try better to resist the urge to check. An actual effort is always needed, even in other addictions.
We need to set limits and boundaries on our behavior and slowly, ever so slowly, wean ourselves off of constant checking in. We need to pay attention and be more sensitive to the people we’re currently with. There’s this suggestion online where when you eat out with friends or family, you put all your gadgets in the basket, and the first person who is unable to resist the urge to check his or her phone pays for the bill. Sounds like an easy way to get a free meal, if you’re able to practice enough self-control.
As much as we like it or not (well most of us will like it), the fact of the matter is that smartphones are here to stay. Some people think that it’s a bad decision to keep these devices at hand. Most of the time, they opt for lower-ended black-and-white-screened Nokias. And that’s not a necessarily bad thing, even though smartphones are more useful these days. Smartphones are both bad and good in different ways. They’re effective multi-tasking materials and work devices. They’re the ultimate all-in-one mobile phone. The only things left are food storage and heated toilet seats. The bad part in all of this is the dependence and addiction that we can get from using smartphones too much. We’re in control and we should act like we are, not the other way around. So the next time you use your phone, which is probably while and/or after reading this statement, you should remember that smartphones were created by people, for people. We have a higher capacity than a phone or computer ever will. We, the people, have the highest OS there will ever be, no matter what phone we use. We have the Human Brain 1.0, now with the Common Sense add-on. Hey. Hey you. I’m talking to you. “Stop using your phone!!”
Student Girls Using Smartphone at School. N.d. Photograph. Shutterstock.com. By Goodluz. Shutterstock.com. Web. 4 Aug. 2013. <http://image.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/624661/124814656/stock-photo-student-girls-using-smartphone-at-school-124814656.jpg>.
Orange Cartoon Character with Smartphonehead. N.d. Photograph. Shutterstock.com. By Stylephotography.de. Shutterstock.com. Web. 4 Aug. 2013. <http://image.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/381007/127100570/stock-photo-orange-cartoon-character-with-smartphonehead-white-background-127100570.jpg>.
Hand Hold Smat Mobile Phone with Blank To-Do List. N.d. Photograph. Us.123srf.com. Us.123srf.com. Web. 5 Aug. 2013. <http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/vichie81/vichie811112/vichie81111200025/11559643-hand-hold-smart-mobile-phone-with-blank-to-do-list.jpg>.
N.d. Photograph. Skytechgeek.com. Skytechgeek.com, 18 Nov. 2011. Web. 5 Aug. 2013. <http://skytechgeek.com/2011/11/task-management-applications-for-your-smart-phones/to-do-list_smartphone/>.
Davis, Susan. “Addicted to Your Smartphone? Here’s What to Do.” Webmd.com. Webmd.com, n.d. Web. 4 Aug. 2013. <http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/addicted -your-smartphone-what-to-do?pag>
Magid, Larry. “Korean Students Aren’t the Only Ones ‘Addicted’ to Smartphones.” The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 7 July 2013. Web. 3 Aug. 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-magid/korean-students-arent-the_b_3637607.html>.
Halliday, Josh. “Facebook and Twitter Fuel IPhone and BlackBerry Addiction, Says Ofcom.”The Guardian. The Guardian, 4 Aug. 2011. Web. 3 Aug. 2013. <http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/aug/04/facebook-twitter-iphone-blackberry-addiction-ofcom>.
Personal photographs. By Ng, Kenrik.