Mobile devices, and their ability to keep us connected 24/7, have invaded all facets of our lives. These devices have brought us incredible conveniences by their constant connection to the world, but they don’t come with warning labels about appropriate use. Smartphones are with you at all times, and the compulsion to check in to certain apps on a constant basis can lead to compulsive and addictive behavior. Soon you’ll find yourself checking your device over interacting with people.
An opinion piece I recently came across described a scenario in which a mother completely missed the fun her child was experiencing at the playground because she was too engrossed with an online conversation on her smartphone. As it turned out, the child went to play on a slide instead of a swing, which didn’t require his mother’s participation, and thus he could sort out his fun all by himself.
It’s ironic that this type of scenario has developed in our lives. Back in the day, television was an evil that always distracted us from quality time together (maybe it still is). Our parents would get around this by making dedicated time at the dinner table, or getting us to play outside. The introduction of mobile phones ushered in the era of constant connection with phone calls and text messages from your pocket. And now? We are absolutely bombarded with so many distractions, thanks to smartphones and tablets, that we are running the risk of being overwhelmed by things that don’t matter, and distracted from interacting with people that we care about.
Current generations are growing up now with the notion that 24/7 constant connection to the virtual world through mobile devices is the norm. The kid who couldn’t divert his mother’s attention away from the online conversation will probably learn that this is just how things are, and then he will engage in this behavior himself with his kids. This is where the real problem lies; it’s systemic. Too much of anything is a bad thing, and the idea of applying moderation to the use of our technology, in this respect, may do us more good than we can ever imagine.