• 21 MAR 16
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    The Sydney Morning Herald on smart phone addiction

    Smartphones are ruling our lives and killing our imaginations

    March 18, 2016
    Kim Arlington

    Excerpt

    It wasn’t too long ago that smartphones were a novelty, something the ardent tech-heads would queue up in the street to buy. But now we must go to the ends of the earth to escape them.

    When Suzie Blackwell hiked through the mountains of Patagonia, she stayed at a camp with no Wi-Fi. “It was really noticeable how friendly people were,” she says. “Everyone was very open and approachable, and really engaged when you sat down and talked.”

    Blackwell, who uses a work mobile as well as her own smartphone at home in Sydney, found it liberating. With no prospect of connecting to the internet, people made personal connections the priority.

    Since Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, smartphones have saturated society. More than 80 per cent of Australians have one; only 4 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds don’t.
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    We use them to email, take photos, check social media, listen to music, surf the internet, find directions, watch movies. We even use our smartphones to use our smartphones less, installing apps that monitor and limit our activity.

    The names and popularity of such apps reflect a growing desire for time out from the technology that was supposed to make life easier. BreakFree. QualityTime. Pause. Moment.

    Alarmed by how often he and his wife were “zoning out on the couch on our phones”, US app developer Kevin Holesh​ built Moment to let people track their use, set daily limits and deter them from using their phone.

    With a tagline of “Put your phone down and get back to your life”, it has been downloaded 2.5 million times in less than two years.

    “There’s a wave of people who are sick of using their smartphones too much,” Holesh says. “People are generally using their phone about twice as much as they estimate.”

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    But they have their downsides. Ling notes it’s harder to operate socially if we forget our phone or the battery dies. And given the expectation that we should be accessible at all times, he says we are “in a small way shirking our social responsibility” if we are not.

    The pressure to be constantly available and responsive on social media can cause depression, anxiety and decrease sleep quality for teenagers, according to University of Glasgow researchers.

    It’s not just teens feeling that way. Thirty per cent of those surveyed for the latest EY Digital Australia: State of the Nation report said their smartphone or tablet negatively affected their sleep or stress. Thirty-one per cent felt “addicted” to their device – a figure that rose to 46 per cent among 18 to 34-year-olds. They are a major contributor to the breakdown of the work/life divide; one study found working from smartphones and tablets adds two hours to the average working day.
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    Read the full article here

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