Addictive Obsession: Smartphones
Are we obsessed with smartphones? Consider this: New Year’s Eve, 2017, 75 billion messages were sent on Facebook’s WhatsApp. That’s up 20% from 2016. It’s also about 1 message every 6 seconds. By all of the 300 million active users. All day long! When did they sing Auld Lang Syne?
As an authoritative voice concerned about the potential damage to our lives from our smartphones, MIT pyschologist Sherry Turkle speaks passionately about the American obsession with smartphones. Of the 77% of Americans who own a smartphone, each typically touches the phone about 2,600 times a day. What a set up for Ms. Turkle’s analysis that as Americans we are “Alone Together!“
Facebook Sees the Harm
But a greater authoritative voice of concern is that of Facebook itself. As 2017 came to a close, Facebook acknowledged that social media may be hurting the mental health of its users. Facebook cites a study indicating that when people spend a lot of time reading online media content they feel worse. Clicking can create a bad mood.
Even 10 minutes reading Facebook posts can have a negative effect. But what about all those happy life stories about others? They’re good, right? No, they can cause comparisons between the happy ending and the reader’s own life story – not so happy.
As a result of this gathering evidence that social media has the potential to make a person unhappy, jealous and anti-social, Facebook plans to make
some changes to enhance “well-being through meaningful interactions.”
Even Apple Has Been Bitten
Apple also has been approached by key investors to help curb young people’s addiction to their smartphones. Major investors Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System say, “there is a clear need for Apple to offer parents more choice and tools to help them…”
Do you see a need for change? Mark Love did. He felt his children were spending too much time on their smartphones. So he created the Be Present Box. The box restricts use of the phone because the child voluntarily places the smartphone into the box. And closes the lid! For agreed upon times and durations. Not a full solution, but 1200 people liked the idea enough to purchase a Be Present Box.
There is a need for concern with over 50% of teenagers seriously addicted to their smart phones, even sleeping with them. Pew Research stated that in 2015 24% of teens go online “almost constantly.” 56% reported as going online several times a day. 94% go online daily or more often. Two years later, the need is acknowledged by the providers.
None Left Out
Just think. Sleepless in Seattle would not have had that well-known, almost missed, top-of-the-Empire-State-building meeting, if they’d been able to text, “Where are you?!” But texting my location – as helpful as that can be – doesn’t have the same relational warmth as actually meeting someone face to face that you’ve come to love. Right? Of course right!
2018 is a good time to spend more time with people than with your smartphone. I don’t want to leave anyone out.