With almost 80% of the world’s population nowadays owning a cell phone it becomes hard not to relate very intimately to this technology. For decades these small and personal electronic devices slowly and steadily grown in importance in everyday’s life, but it was not until the introduction of the smartphone, a pocket computer capable of making phone calls, in 2007, that the ownership has also become a matter of public health.
According to an infographic published by the website OnlineMastersDegree.com (2013) the average smartphone user “glances at their cell phone 150 time a day.” It might not seem much on the paper, but ultimately signifies that this person ignores the world around to look down at a luminous LCD screen once every 6.5 minutes. A behavior like that can easily be called an addiction.
Dr James Roberts of Baylor's Hankamer School of Business recently conceded an interview to the newspaper The Telegraph (2012) in which he says that the use of smartphones is already a big part of the contemporary culture. “They are not just a consumer tool,” he claims, “but are used as a status symbol.” It means that much more than a mere utilitarian device a cell phone represents the owner’s personality. The purchase of it, thus, signifies an extension of one’s image. The relationship between user and machine then becomes almost innate, leading to a fear of deprivation only compared to that felt towards a fellow human being.
There is not a proper medical treatment to this problem as of now. The only way seems to be self-consciousness: a smartphone owner should avoid checking for new messages while eating and in the presence of other people, turn the device off especially during the night (researches indicate a loss of 45 minutes of sleep each week due to the cell phone usage) and take gadget-free vacations every now and then. With these small measures it is possible to gain freedom from the smartphone dependency whilst remaining still connected.
As stated before, there is still plenty of room for studies about the smartphone usage. The expedients proposed above are only small actions to prevent it from causing dependency on people. They may not be the final solution for a crescent issue within the society, but surely will avoid the incidence of more “nomophobics” — people who have legitimate fear of losing their devices. It is believed that 70% of women and 61% of men are already suffering from it.
Smartphone is a relatively new technology and in being so it still lacks a definitive place in today’s culture. The best way to deal with it remains to be discovered, and this will only happen after loads of trial and error observations. It is already clear that owning a cell phone is a condition sine qua non to the modern life, however the relationship between user and gadget must be taken very cautiously in order to never interfere in human interaction.
OnlineMastersDegree.com, 2013. Your Cell Phone Is Killing You. [online] Available at: http://www.onlinemastersdegree.com/cell-phones-kill/ [accessed 04 March 2013]
Alleyne, Richard, 2012. Mobile Phone Addiction Ruining Relationships. [online] Available at: http://telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/9714616/Mobile-phone-addiction-ruining-relationships.html [accessed 04 March 2013]