6 skills our smartphone kills!

Smartphones are killing our skills

Are smartphones killing out skills?
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Have you noticed smartphones are killing our skills? For some, this doesn’t appear a problem but bear with me.

What if World War 3 started? Okay, I’ll try and be a little less dramatic! What if smartphone service went down? Plausible. What if we had a zombie apocalypse? Okay, sorry… there I go again.

My point is, what if at some point we needed our skills but did not have use of our smartphones? It’s okay kids. Once upon a time there was a world without smartphones. This very thought is making me a little nostalgic… but I’ll get back on track.

As a world, we are becoming so dependant on technology with just a handful of technology companies at the helm. Will there be a time when these companies control how and what we think? Will they control how we feel?

At this point you’re probably still reading because you think I have a point or you think I’m totally nuts and you want to see what kind of crazy BS I write next. Either is fine with me, as long as you’re still reading.

6 skills our smartphone kills

Here are 6 skills are smartphones are either replacing or damaging all together:

  1. Focus: Our attention spans are getting shorter. How long can you focus on a single task or project without being distracted by technology?
  2. Memory: Do you know your partner’s phone number? How many phone numbers can you recall? I remember a time when I had to dial a phone number each time I wanted to reach someone. It was tedious, however, I could recall several phone numbers easily.
  3. Navigation: When was the last time you had to read a paper map? Can you remember more than one turn or do you wait for the annoying navigator to announce your next direction change? Can you work out if you’re travelling north, south, east or west? (My older readers are probably nodding yes).
  4. Creativity: We have access to seemingly endless information online, however, what sets us apart as humans is our ability to think and process (not in the same way a computer processes). Information is not original. Creativity is.
  5. Knowledge: 60% of all news is fake. Okay, I’m just making that up -but the point is you would probably never know! The Internet is full of facts and figures but they’re not always true, however, that doesn’t stop people from filling their head with this misinformation. Misinformation is not making us smarter.
  6. Social skills: I’m going to get some arguments here. Social media is not socialising. I know it sounds crazy but it’s true. Retouched photos, selected information, fake persona’s, emoticons and text messages are not effective communication. We’re setting ourselves up for unrealistic expectations and misunderstandings in the real world. We’re missing body language, the sense of touch, tone of voice and those missed moments that can come from an awkward silence or a feeling of discomfort.

You probably don’t know it yet, however, one day you will thank me for pointing this out. There are so many realistic scenarios where you might not be able to rely on your smartphone.

Consider the possibility of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, an act of war, poor weather, flat batteries, being separated from your smartphone (sounds far fetched but it’s true!) and power outages (not just for your phone but also the towers, servers etc. your phone depends on).

Plus there’s so much we’re missing by being glued to our smartphone. Smartphones stimulate 2 senses; sight and sound. We’re missing the senses of touch, taste and smell when we’re on our phones. We’re missing body language, tone of voice, familiar scents and the experience of sharing food, for example.

I’m not anti-technology. I have and use a smartphone but I know there’s more to life. Switch your phone off for a short while today. Maybe even test yourself on a few of the skills I have mentioned above without reaching for the phone. Test yourself, no cheating.

Smartphones have us trained like monkeys

Smartphone addiction is common

Smartphone addiction
Does smartphone addiction have us trained like monkeys? (No offence buddy)

Smartphone addiction is a thing and you probably even have it. According to Psychiatrist Dr Archer, the fear of being without a smartphone is called nomophobia and it affects 40% of the population.

What causes smartphone addiction?

Why are so many people addicted? Dr Archer argues that smartphone addiction comes about because these devices are such an integral part of our lives. We don’t just use our mobile (cell) phones to make calls any more. Most people use phones to socialise, record memories, communicate, play games, watch videos, count steps, control our diets and so much more.

Kogon, Merrill and Rinne suggest our brain releases dopamine when we accomplish things that matter. In their book, The 5 Choices, the writers go on to suggest we may start to pursue activities just because they release dopamine, whether or not they are productive. Later in their book they point out that technology multiplies our addiction to urgency [1].

Smartphone addiction is changing us

I grew up before smartphone addiction was a thing. I grew up before smartphones were a thing or mobile (cell) phones were popular. I have seen some of the contexts where smartphone addiction has changed the way we communicate, work, relax and socialised. Consider the following situations when people are now using smartphones:

  • During sex (not me… but I know someone who knows someone)
  • Family dinners at home
  • Social outings with friends
  • Dates and intimate experiences
  • Next to the bed while sleeping

Why smartphone addiction is a problem

It’s not crack right? So, you’re probably asking why should you ditch the smartphone? I am not suggesting technology is the problem here. It’s only a problem as far as it affects your life. Keep reading and ask yourself honestly, “is my smartphone use negatively impacting my life?”

Smartphone addiction changes your thinking

At the risk of oversimplification, humans have three parts to the brain. I’ll work backwards to briefly describe each of them. The neocortex or thinking brain is the part that makes us most human. As the term thinking brain implies, this is where we make our conscious, well thought out and intentional decisions. Next is the limbic system or mammalian brain, which deals with our emotions and memory. The very first part of our brain to form and the most primitive part is the brain stem or reptilian brain, which control basic instincts and responses [2].

Our smartphones provide stimuli in the form of alerts, which appeals to our reptilian brain. Alerts from our smartphones are a constant interruption to higher order thinking. We are simply reacting to external stimuli, like we might have as cave men and women. Maybe evolution is turning a full circle!

Changes to our way of thinking might just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many ways technology is impacting our lives. Can you suggest other ways smartphone addiction might be impacting you or someone you know?

 

References

  1. K. Kogon, A. Merrill and L. Rinne, The 5 Choices, Simon and Schuster UK Ltd, London, 2015, pp38-39 and p114.
  2. C. Rose and M. J. Nicholl, Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century, Dell Publishing, Broadway, 1997, pp28-30.