Before I begin, I just want to tell you that I couldn’t decide whether the title of this blog should have a question mark at the end or not. I really wanted it to. I want to be able to ask the question ‘Are smartphones taking over our lives?’ with hope that the answer would be: No.
Unfortunately, I think smartphones took over our lives a long long time ago – whether we accept it or not.
Millennials have grown up relying on technology. Those born in the late 1970s and early 1980s might remember a time without computers and mobile phones, and they probably remember the household TV being the main source of the latest news and up-to-date information.
With the creation of mobile phones – specifically smartphones – things have totally changed. Today news will probably appear on your Twitter feed first, meaning that by the time it is announced on the 8 o’clock evening TV news, it will already be old news.
Millennials, (those born in 1982 and approximately 20 years thereafter) have a totally different experience. I am a 90s child and I remember getting my first mobile phone at the age of 16. It wasn’t even a ‘smart’ phone, it was just a simple mini Nokia 3310 that would perform only very basic actions like send text messages and make calls. With it offering an alarm clock and 4 games including: Snake II, Pairs II, Space Impact, and Bantumi – this was as ‘fancy’ my technology world could get.
What is worse is that for most of us, our smartphones are directly linked to all our social media. Hannah Osborne writes about the effects of technology and social media platforms on millennials and explains that ‘since the creation of Facebook in 2004, Millennials’ social interactions have been significantly changed by social media’. She highlights that the advances in technology have heavily influenced Millennials throughout their childhood and into adolescence and adulthood.
And why wouldn’t it?
When useful gadgets like computers, MP3 players, telephones, calculators, maps, cameras, clocks, notepads and much more have all been centralised into one single gadget making it now a truly ‘smart’ phone, then it makes perfect sense that we would all carry around this highly useful piece of technology everywhere we go.
I can definitely say that my smartphone shapes the way I view technology. Most scarily though, it shapes how I view the world, how I view myself and how I view life. I look at my phone screen hundreds of times a day and I am embarrassed to admit that I could be addicted to my phone.
About a month ago I realised that Social Media was the main reason that I looked at my screen so regularly. Even when I didn’t hear my phone buzz I was subconsciously hoping for a message or a notification, in order to feel connected and cared for. With my recent realisations I felt that there was a need for change.
So I made the decision to try hard to pull myself away from my phone for a month. I told my friends that I was going on a ‘Digital Detox’ for a while and that I would be back in a month. I deleted Instagram and Facebook Apps all together (as those were the ones I was mainly addicted to) and tried to enjoy internet-free time by putting my phone to the side for 2-3 hours a day.
The idea was that I would de-toxify my brain from the useless information and the meaningless notifications that kept on lighting up my screen. Sadly, once I returned back to my phone a month later, the nightmare started all over again due to the tons of missed calls from friends, the unread messages and the endless social media notifications from both my personal and business accounts. I thought to myself – there is no escape!
Going back to the title, we do live in a world where we all rely heavily on our smartphones to get things done. We claim to need our phone alarm, our text messages, our social media accounts, our phone camera, our emails, our telephone calls, our news and weather updates, and even our steps counter! But what we don’t ‘need’ is to be addicted to our smartphones so much that we cannot leave our house without them.
So think about it. How long can you go without your smartphone? When was the last time you tried to go phone-free? How many times to you look at your phone’s screen?
P.S. – CHALLENGE YOURSELF!
I would like for you to also challenge yourself for a month and see what you can do to prevent yourself from looking at your phone. For those of you who need to keep track of important meetings and appointments, move over to a paper diary or planner to keep track of the really essential tasks of the day. If you really want to, you will find ways to reduce the time you spend on your smartphone and give you a break from that bad LED light coming from your screen. Just give it a try.