Over the last few days, a few articles have come my way (including one I wrote myself) about smartphone addiction and the impact of our ‘always connected’ society. My favourite so far has been this fromm Joe Kraus at Google Ventures: http://joekraus.com/were-creating-a-culture-of-distraction
Hi, my name is Sonia and I’m addicted to my smartphone. Except it’s not my phone itself per se, it’s that feeling of knowing what is going on right now and what my internet friends are talking about. I’ve reverted to my teenage self and I don’t want to miss out, on anything, even for an hour.
The problem is that I am missing out. I’m missing out on the present. And yes, as new agey as it sounds, with the background of all of those talks that tell us to ‘truly be in the moment’, I’m missing out on what is going on in front of me. That’s kind of important when you have a family.
Don’t get me wrong – I still love to reach for my phone to look up the opening hours of a store or find a recipe or check if a TV program is on tonight. But I don’t need to constantly check it to see who’s posted what on Facebook and Twitter.
So I think someone needs to start up a website with a Smartphone Pledge. You could then sign this ‘contract’ and commit to it for a certain period of time (start with one day if you are seriously addicted, or one week, one month, or even until further notice?).
I’ll start with a few Pledge condition ideas:
- I pledge to not check my Smartphone before I’ve had a shower and eaten breakfast.
- I pledge to not have my Smartphone within reach during mealtimes.
- I pledge to go to the bathroom without my Smartphone.
- I pledge to not have my Smartphone when I am a passenger in a vehicle.
Is this all a bit much? Are we going to far here, or not far enough?
Today I discovered that my parents do not have email on their iPhone. It’s distracting. If somebody wants them urgently, they’ll call them or SMS. They don’t feel it’s necessary to check out what their friends are doing today or to share their day online. I don’t think that our teenagers or most Gen Xers even could cope with that.
We are the generations that have embraced technology. I know and share with a great bunch of people online that I would never have met in real life and I feel richer for it. But now I have another thing to add to my juggling act of balancing my life, to ensure I’m truly present for my kids and to show them have to squeeze the joy out of the present moment. If I don’t, they’ll grow up glued to their phones too. So you see, there is a lot at stake here.
Pass me that pledge to sign, please.
P.S. If it’s the ‘meal out with friends’ that sees all of the smartphones in hand, check out the Phone Stacking game http://www.news.com.au/technology/smartphones/phone-stacking-game-to-get-friends-off-mobiles-at-meal-time/story-fn6vihic-1226247534506