I love my mobile phone. I have had one ever since they first came out back in the 1990s. I've moved from the Motorola brick size ones … to the flip lid … to a few versions of the Nokia … and now I have my faithful iPhone 6 Plus (no, I never had a Blackberry or a Samsung). I am an 'early adopter' when it comes to technology. I love to have the (almost) latest and greatest. But I probably won't jump right away to the new iPhone 8 or iPhone X (with face recognition!), as amazing as they sound. At least, not yet.
On my phone, I can not only make and receive calls. I can check my email. I can transfer money or pay a bill from my bank APP. I can read an eBook while while out shopping. I can surf the internet and find all kinds of information, which is especially helpful when you are travelling to new and unfamiliar places. I can check my list of tasks that I am hoping to complete. I can listen music or watch a video. I can text my family and friends – from anywhere in the world. I can do a quick currency conversion or check the share market or a sports score (Go Cats!). No wonder some people call it a 'smart phone'!
But is it really that smart?
It is estimated that the average phone user checks their phone 85 times a day and a huge 91 percent of users would never leave home without their 'friend' in hand. But as our constant companion, it also never shuts up. Whenever it rings, beeps or vibrates, we snap to attention. Even when it is silent and not in use, it still affects our concentration. A recent study titled Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One's Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity, published by the University of Chicago Press, indicates that the mere presence of a phone on the table, in the pocket, or bag, is enough to impair performance on off-screen tasks. The authors note that, "Results from two experiments indicate that even when successful at maintaining sustained attention – as when avoiding the temptation to check their phones – the mere presence of these devices reduces available cognitive capacity." They go on to say, "We propose that the mere presence of one's smartphone may impose a 'brain drain'."
In our ever-increasingly connected world, the wonderful smartphone is actually impairing our ability to be fully present and engaged with those around us, as well as our ability to be productive with the tasks we are endeavouring to achieve. I believe it's time to program some more extended 'off line' spaces in our day. In fact, why not just leave your phone in another room when you are having a meal or interacting with family and friends?
That sounds pretty smart.