When I wake up I instinctively reach for my phone. I just mean to check the time and get out of bed. But before I know it, I have spent 30 minutes or more browsing through Instagram and Facebook and then watched a few videos on YouTube as well. I can’t imagine leaving home without my phone and I know the feeling is mutual. Nomophobia (the fear of being without a mobile phone) is a common issue, so much so that we now carry extra battery backups that are heavier than our phones just so we never run out of charge.
However, it’s amazing how the very device that was invented to bring people together has torn us apart. It’s not unusual for friends to plan a get together only to chat online with people who aren’t there.
Sometimes, and I too am guilty of it, we even text a friend who is sitting right across us. The ease with which we can connect with someone living miles away has made us disconnected from all those around us. And what scares me the most is that try as I might I just can’t seem to stay away from my phone for longer than an hour at the most. Granted I use my cell phone for work and there’s no doing without it but even when there’s nothing urgent, mindless scrolling takes over.
According to Google Trends, searches for ‘phone addiction’ have risen steadily in the past five years, and ‘social media addiction’ comes in second. I have seen kids who can use their parents’ phones and they can barely walk! Then there are girls, and boys too for that matter, carrying big bags and backpacks and they have their phones in their hands. Much of note taking also happens on our phones and tablets today.
No one seems to bring a pen and paper to meetings anymore. As we become increasingly tethered to our screens, it’s time to question whether we are using our smartphones to our detriment or advantage and work on our habits.