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COMMENT: We need our smartphones

Andjela Ergic, ECU Reporter

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The use of smartphones has become a part of everyday life for people globally. Their computer-like features not only make our lives easier, but also play a key role in various processes such as connecting with friends, staying up to date with the latest news and completing work.

However, not everyone is accepting of the super device. Some older folks see the smartphone as a mind controller inhabiting young users’ minds and making them slaves of the device. Others go as far as saying that we are generation destined for doom, as we are losing the ability to communicate face-to-face.

Australia’s biggest smartphone survey is a collaboration between the ABC, Griffith , Murdoch and Western Sydney Universities. It’s been gathering data that it will release in full in October. Preliminary results, however, show that, while a lot of people love their smartphones, many believe that they “are stopping us from interacting with the people around us” and others believe they would be more productive and happier without their device.

So is the smart-phone infatuation, creating a doomed generation?

I believe not and here’s why:

1. Young people are using their phones for good.

For millenials, checking social media accounts on a smartphone is about as ordinary as brushing their teeth. The 2016 ABS census showed, 96% of 18- 29 year olds, use their smartphones to access social media. Social media is not only a tool used to help users stay connected, it is also part of the market business, used to stay up to date with current news and it’s also used by charities to raise awareness and funds.

Let’s rewind back to 2014 and the ASL Ice-Bucket Challenge. Our timelines were filled with videos of young people pouring icy cold water over themselves and tagging their friends to do the same to raise funds and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). In four weeks $98 million was raised. Now needless to say that was a pretty hefty sum raised in an extremely short period of time. If it wasn’t for the smartphones’ ability to both record and share the video to social networking sites that amount would never have been obtained.

2. Mobile phones make us feel safe.

It’s no secret that for many of us our mobile phone is our comfort item. It makes us feel safe knowing that at any time we can call a friend, or the police, if we find ourselves in an uncomfortable in a situation. There are even apps available on smartphones such as Circle of 6, which allow users to discreetly contact their circle of friends through pre-programmed messages when they feel they’re in danger.

Another great feature of the smartphone is that it sends you direct warnings of any natural or man-made disasters that are happening or about to occur in your area. Facebook also allows for easy check-in during times of crises. What otherwise may have been delayed and caused stress, now can be solved in a few short taps, letting you quickly and easily inform your loved ones that you’re safe.

 3. The world is becoming digitalized

What many older generations are failing to realise is that for millenials mobile phones are no longer a trivial or nice-to-have item, but rather a necessity. From connecting with friends, to completing school work, smart phones have the capability to converge hundreds of processes into one. Although it may seem that millenials are just ‘texting on their phones all the time’, they’re probably doing the same things as the older folks are doing, just not in an obvious way, as smartphones have replaced the need to bring a book, newspaper, iPod or Scratchie onto the train.

 4. Communication

The value of face-to-face communication has always been a strong argument against smartphones. In the preliminary results from the survey many participants noted how “smartphones are stopping us from interacting with the people around us”. However, despite that assumption, I believe that mobile phones are not the only reason for a lack of face-to-face communication. Before smartphones, the newspaper was ‘distraction’ , after that came the radio, then the TV, then computers and internet, therefore smartphones cannot single-handedly be blamed for causing interference to face-to-face communication.

Surprisingly in some cases smartphones have enabled face-to-face communication that otherwise would’ve never been possible. Applications such as FaceTime and Skype have allowed people to see and speak to each other over their phones, mimicking a face-to-faced conversation.

 

I am not saying we should be glued to our phones 24/7 however, we need to be more understanding about smartphone usage. Yes, young people should make more effort to speak face-to-face with people, yes phones should be off limits when speaking with someone directly, and yes, we shouldn’t be ignoring the possibility that they may be causing us to be unproductive, but please understand that most of our lives are digitalized; from work to play, and everything in between, is all readily available to us through our phones.

We as a society shouldn’t be condemning the use of smartphones, instead we should be trying to find a balance. So go on and write a letter to your gramps, talk to a stranger at the bus stop and go join a creative club, but also be mindful of the phenomenal technology we have available at the tips of our hands to educate our minds.

 

 

 

 

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Quality journalism by ECU students
COMMENT: We need our smartphones