How many times a day do you use your smartphone to check emails, Google an answer, settle a discussion or bide your time while waiting in a long line with Facebook or Twitter? While that answer is innumerable, the better question is: What did we do before smartphones?
There are thousands of apps made to enhance daily life, allowing users to navigate the world at their fingertips. For example, “Around Me” uses your location to list every amenity imaginable within close proximity; “Shazam” listens to 30 seconds of a song, returning a title and artist, and “iHandy Level” even turns your phone into a level, ensuring the shelf that you’re hanging is straight. Sure, these apps are pretty nifty, but they come at a high price – and we aren’t talking dollars.
Since obtaining information has become instantaneous and constant, smartphone users are becoming more impatient as they become increasingly dependent on their devices. Lisa Merlo, a clinical psychologist and director of psychotherapy training at the University of Florida, makes the case in USA Today that we are becoming obsessed with our smartphones at the expense of social and emotional intelligence. According to Merlo, these gadgets are causing decreased attention spans, detaching us from the real world and stifling our ability to communicate in person.
As scary as it may be, the best solution to our attachment is separation. We need to leave our smartphones at home and use the instincts we had before our devices took the reins. It would be interesting to see how much resourcefulness is retained without omniscience in our purses or pockets.
Try scheduling 15 minutes a day that are smartphone free. If you find you can handle it, increase the time each week. Eventually you might even be able to enjoy an entire meal without a distraction or go for a run without an app that tracks your pace!