Are We Turning Into Smartphone Slaves?

by Gaurav Kheterpal on August 5, 2011

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I often say that technology is meant to better human lives. However, I’m strongly against the overuse of technology. Five years back, owning a cellphone was an exception rather than a norm. Things have changed and smartphones are now omnipresent. People use them in all walks of life including the theatre, library and even the toilet.

In March, I wrote about how mobile etiquette is increasingly getting lost in conversation. A recent Ofcom report indicates that nearly 60% teenagers are self-confessed smartphone addicts. The worrying part, though is that adults are now almost as guilty of it as teenagers.

While the Ofcom report focuses on the UK, it’s the same story across all developed ‘smartphone-friendly’ nations. People are prepared to give up sex, alcohol and even their toothbrushes for smartphones. I can’t help but ask – are we turning into smartphone slaves?

The Ofcom report indicates that over a quarter of adults and almost half of teenagers now own a smartphone. Teenagers are readily giving up traditional habits in favor of their smartphone, 23% watch less TV and 15% read fewer books. Social media and smartphones are now the primary channels of socializing and real-life friendships seem to be a thing of the past. 51% of adults and 65% of teenagers say they have used their smartphone while socializing with others.

The explosive growth of mobile phones has certainly made communication easier than ever. Unfortunately, it’s also meant that the days of good technology etiquette are over. People don’t shy away from using cellphones anywhere anytime – be it during meals, in the prayers or even when they are in bed. The Ofcom report suggests that people with feature phones were far less likely to keep them turned on during a play or film, simply because they had lot less to do on such devices.

Smartphones have altered our work-life balance as well – they provide us the flexibility to attend work-related phone calls while on holiday, but in turn take away the charm of holidaying.

Interestingly, Ofcom reports that only 47% of adult smart phone users have downloaded an app. What do the other 53% do with their smartphones – your guess is as good as mine. There’s no doubt that smartphones are an effective means of communication and entertainment, they are increasingly becoming more powerful and can do considerably more than phones of yesteryear. However, is that a good reason to transform humans into smartphone slaves? Are you a smart phone addict? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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Wilfred Oluoch August 7, 2011 at 1:42 am

Hi Gaurav,

I agree entirely with your article – especially the issue of “etiquette”.

It is very annoying when you are in a face to face conversation with someone and their phone rings – and they just stop talking to you without even and “Excuse me, can I take this?” and start another abrupt conversation with the caller.

Its like these phones are more important than the person right in front of you.


Gaurav Kheterpal August 8, 2011 at 5:25 am

Very true. The unfortunate part – it’s only going to get worse from here on.

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