As an electronics laggard, I just bought my first smartphone a little over three months ago. The world has become so much more accessible since becoming a part of the iPhone family. I know the weather, find out how my friends are doing, go shopping, text, and more all before getting out of bed in the morning. However, over the Fourth of July holiday, I went “Up North” to Hale, Mich. for five days. While you are suppose to enjoy nature and get away from society for a few days when on vacation, I found myself constantly checking up with everything I left behind because Grandma and Grandpa Conrad decided to get WiFi. For the first time since getting my smartphone, I wished that I left it at home.
Is my smartphone taking over my life? It has been reported that smartphone owners check their devices over 150 times during the average 16 hours people are awake during the day. This constant need to check on what everyone else is doing, posting and saying distracted me from enjoying the beautiful lake house I was staying in. Apparently, 84% of people worldwide say they cannot go a single day without their phones and sadly I have become part of this statistic.
My questions is, why couldn’t I put my phone down or turn it off? According to Judson Brewer of Yale’s Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic, people are addicted to their phones for the same reason many are addicted to gambling. Cellular Devices comply with the associative learning pathway of human brains, and this makes us feel good or bad depending on the situation. When gambling, people do not know when they are going to win and this makes winning even more fun when it happens. When using smartphones, we don’t know when we are going to get a notification or what it is going to say. This triggers excitement within us, causing addiction to our devices.
I love having a smartphone because it connects me with the rest of society. Entertainment and information combined make having a smartphone so convenient and enjoyable. However, the addiction we have with our smartphones need to be controlled. Next year, I plan on leaving my phone at home while I enjoy what the physical world has to offer.