Smartphones have existed for over 20 years now and since their release, people knew that they would change the world forever. They have, but have they changed the world for the better? More and more scientists will tell you that smartphones have been hurting society rather than helping it.
Smartphones Have Been Damaging Our Brains:
While the first smartphone was released in the mid-90s, most people associate the Apple iPhone with being the first smartphone. No matter which phone you believe truly started the age of the smartphone, people have been forecasting that smartphones will have a negative effect on our society.
The picture of the 1906 cartoon above shows a couple sitting separated, facing away from each other with wireless telegraph machines eating up their attention.
Who knew that this would be closer to the truth than a joke? It just took nearly a hundred years to become a truth.
Smartphones have become extremely prevalent around the world. A 2016 study showed that 72% of Americans had smartphones, 88% of South Koreans owned smartphones, and 39% of Japanese people also had smartphones.
Since 2016 those numbers have risen. The wide variety of low budget smartphones on the market is partially responsible for this.
These pocket-sized devices have changed how we interact with the world and how we access information. Think about it, instead of picking up a book to find out something. Or asking a friend how to do something, you pull out that gadget from your pocket and perform a search.
More and more studies have been showing the same side effects of this enhanced level of technology. Our attention spans are lessening, managing the balances in life has become harder, and brain health has gone down the toilet.
A number of experts have consulted and participated in these studies, from neuroscientists to marketers, people from every industry have helped to try and determine whether these devices will hurt our society. Some argue that it already has.
It doesn’t take a study to tell you that smartphones are hurting us. If you ask people whether or not smartphones have hurt their ability to remember facts or taken away from their face-to-face interaction, chances are you will hear a great number of people say it has.
Bank of England has noticed that since smartphones became so prevalent that their employees have been spending more time on their phone while they are at work.
Facebook Is Extremely Addictive:
Former Facebook president Sean Parker spoke to the media not too long ago about how Facebook purposefully makes their platform addictive to users. They designed it to release dopamine into the brain, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.
The more you use the platform, the more dopamine that is released. People are literally becoming addicted to their smartphones and social media platforms such as Facebook is partially responsible for this addiction.
Many former technology experts have stepped forward to support similar statements about their companies. They want people to know that technology can hurt them, not just help them.
What makes smartphones different from other new media and technology that has come out through the ages? Our smartphones go with us everywhere we go. Most people even bring their smartphones in the bathroom with them.
Those who work in the tech industry have said that they have seen their coworkers working from their phones while using the bathroom.
Addiction isn’t the only problem that people have with smartphones. A study from a British company showed that frequent smartphone use is similar to losing a full-nights sleep or smoking marijuana.
It reduces your responsiveness and your IQ. Even if you know the consequences and affects of constant screen use, you have the same potential to be affected by it.
Our brains have a limited ability to determine what to focus on. If our phones go off, our brain is immediately directed to the device.
Especially if it’s easier to focus on the phone than whatever we were working on at that particular moment. That can be extremely harmful if we need to focus at work or school.
Students with mobile phones have been found far more likely to suffer from Attention-Deficit Disorder or a general lack of attention.
Phones help us to learn bad attention habits, and stopping those habits early on makes it easier to live in the smartphone age.
Past generations have never had this level of attachment to a device. They have never had something that has taken so much of their focus away from their life.
Companies like Facebook make money by getting users to spend lots of time on their websites/apps. The more time that a person spends on their platform, the more ads that a user can see.
Therefore, the more money that Facebook and the other social media platforms can make. They have a vested interest in making you use your smartphone regularly so they do everything they can to make this happen.
With smartphones right in front of us, we tend to spend more time in the digital world “socializing” over the device and less time interacting with the people who are standing/sitting right next to us.
Mothers are a great example of this. Around the world lactation centers and clinics have noticed that mothers breastfeeding have been taking to their phones instead of having eye contact with their babies.
According to a study from Cambridge University, eye contact with your infant helps to build the mother/baby bond.
The same eye contact also helps the infant to learn. There is also a bit of worry that by taking time away from the essential family eye contact, the mother may not learn to identify subtle, non-verbal communication that the baby uses.
On the other hand, some people are suggesting that kids might want to learn early on that parents sometimes get focused on their smartphones. They will learn that sooner or later, so why not learn it sooner?
Studies haven’t been conducted in detail in regards to the exact statistics. However, when the iPhone started to rise in popularity, there was a 12% increase in injuries for children under 5. There could be other explanations for this but the timeframe matches.
All of these problems with smartphones may not stay that way for too long. More and more parents (and other adults) have been learning about the dangers of phones.
Limiting screen time, not just for their kids but for themselves too. Having kids put their devices away during dinner, is just one way that many parents are starting this.
Catching the problem early on can help curb damage done by smartphones. When kids are young, it is essential that they learn good phone habits. If they learn them when they are young, it will be easier for them to keep the good habits as they get older.
Delaying the age at which a kid gets a smartphone can also help. Try to wait until your kids enter their teens to get a smartphone, maybe even a little after their teens. If they absolutely must have a phone before that, get them a flip phone or an otherwise “dumb” phone.
By understanding the problems associated with having smartphones on us all the time, we are able to educate ourselves and learn the best ways to deal with it. Typically, that can be done with proper control of your smartphone usage. Knowing the problem and acknowledging it is also just as important.
Cell phones are great, however. The world needs to embrace a reduction in the use of cell phones and move towards a stigmatization of using cell phones while we are with others.