Smartphone addiction – is it a real thing? We are all guilty of it, getting on our phones to check one thing but we end up getting sucked into a different app or social media. Maybe we check our phones too often or turn to them to keep strangers from talking to us when we’re alone at a restaurant or in a waiting room. Maybe we just can’t leave work at the office and find ourselves checking our email too many times. Either way, there are two sides to smartphone use – positives and negatives.
Business- Leaving the office used to mean leaving the office. But with smartphones it is becoming more and more difficult in some careers, to leave the office behind. In some cases, workers are expected to put in time even when off the clock. This can increase stress and affect the downtime required to recharge. The upside is that cell phones have provided a way to deal with small office emergencies without having to jump in the car and spend an entire off day at the office.
Productivity- Ever try to get things done when your phone keeps buzzing every two minutes? I think we can all relate. Trying to complete those tasks that are necessary but not particularly fun, while the dings of messages and social media offer the perfect distraction can really alter our ability to be productive in a seemingly timely manner. A mundane task that should only take a few minutes could end up taking close to an hour if you’re stopping to check your phone often. The bright side to this dilemma is, smartphones provide the ability to research and troubleshoot as well as connect on a group project in a matter of moments, in turn increasing productivity in other situations.
Convenience- With smartphones, we can access any convenience at any time of the day. Want take-out? Pick up your smartphone and call or online order from your favorite restaurant. If we need to book a flight or transfer money, you can complete either of these tasks from your phone while waiting in line at the grocery store, saving us time and resources. The downside – our patience pays the price! When we have the conveniences of instant gratification, we lose our sense of patience. The convenience smartphones provide can make it hard to maintain patience.
Spontaneity- Smartphones allow us to plan where we will have dinner and what route to take to get to the restaurant, and they help us distract ourselves while waiting in a public place for a friend to arrive. It can hold an entire itinerary for our dream vacation. Every detail planned every moment of the day leaves little room for spontaneity. How often do we connect with a stranger sitting next to us instead of pulling out our phone while we wait? Missed connections and opportunities to network outside the screen pass us by every day. Sometimes technology can cause us to miss out on those wonderful sometimes terrible but in the end, positive experiences that can only happen when we disconnect.
Staying in Touch- Picking up the phone to stay in touch is always a plus, as we’re able to keep up to date with family and friends. You can always be present at concerts and games with the ease of video messaging and never have to miss out on special moments. Unfortunately, this also requires us to be contactable at all times, reducing our ability to disconnect and spend time with ourselves to read, think, or rest uninterrupted.