Talking tech since 2003

Can we please stop with this idea that “smartphone addiction” is a real thing?

For most people, smartphones have two main functions: communication and entertainment. And in my view, any function which a smartphone has taken over for us are simply because they have replaced an older way of doing that thing. For example, with smartphones you can read the news without needing an actual newspaper or magazine, play a game without a console, watch a movie or TV show without a TV, call someone without a landline, communicate with a friend on the other side of the country without having to mail a letter, share pictures without an actual photo album. These are just a few examples.

If you examine so called “smartphone addiction” it makes sense as to why people are always on their phones. Smartphones have replaced a lot of things that people did pretty frequently in the past as well and simply packaged it all into one device. I read an article in the New York Times recently by Farhad Manjoo in which he writes:

Imagine if, once a week, your phone gave you a report on how you spent your time, similar to how your activity tracker tells you how sedentary you were last week. It could also needle you: “Farhad, you spent half your week scrolling through Twitter. Do you really feel proud of that?” It could offer to help: “If I notice you spending too much time on Snapchat next week, would you like me to remind you?”

First, that sounds terrible. Forget the fact that the copy written is condescending and belittling and just focus on the substance of what Farhad is saying which is “Apple should tell us when we’re using any app for too long a period of time.” I love Apple but who are they to determine what is an appropriate amount of time for me to be using an app?

He goes on to write:

Another idea is to let you impose more fine-grained controls over notifications.

Yes. I’m with him on that, but more control over notification settings is a feature (and a nice one at that) but even if this was something Apple implemented in iOS I think it would be praised by iOS users more as a way to be less annoyed but unwanted notifications and less as a way to control “addiction.”

If you’re a parent and you are concerned that your child is on their smartphone too much, be a parent and implement rules or just flat out take it away. It seems simple to me, though I’ll admit I’m not a parent. But I can tell you that I firmly believe the burden is on parents, not companies when it comes to this topic. I grew up in the 90s–did my parents go after TV manufacturers or TV networks and ask them to make TV less “addicting” because I watched too much TV? No. Instead, I didn’t get a TV in my room until I was older and yes it sucked because most of my friends already TVs in their rooms. Point is, I managed, I grew up, and I’m fine. Another option would be getting one of many compatible routers and setting up parental controls so your kid cannot get online after bedtime.

Every generation will likely face this question of is XYZ too addicting? And as it turns out, this generation the question is about smartphones.

Have any thoughts? Leave them below in the comments!

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