Is a phone worse for your health than a cigarette?
Back in the day (the 80s), if you came across a group of teenagers, the chances are that they were standing around, sharing their cigarettes, and engaging in some form of social interaction. It may not have been for everyone’s taste to walk through a tobacco smoke plume, but hey ho, those lads and girls were interacting – even it it was also causing early damage to their developing lungs.
How have phones affected society?
Recently, while waiting outside a local supermarket, I saw a group of lads, who, perhaps 30 years ago would have been smoking No.6 cigarettes and trying to make cool advances to passing girls, whereas now, they were all glued to their phones – no physical interaction at all – just a group of auto-bots pressing screens.
Is phone usage just like contagion?
Shockingly, at one stage, one put his phone in his pocket, then the next did the same, but phew, great relief swept over them as they had to instantly check them again as the next person checked theirs.
In the same way as offering their pal a cigarette, so the habit of phone usage seems to entice each other into the same behaviour. I have to admit, I sat there in the car, resisting the urge to check my own phone and join in with their addictive behaviour. See if you can notice yourself doing that next time the person next to you does it.
Is a mental or social impact worse than physical impairment?
The great thing with all this of course, is that they are not smoking, not filling their lungs with toxins, and not causing untold long term physical damage. What we do not know however, is what the long term effects will be on their social skills, how the technological urge will rewire their brains, and the long term physical impact on their posture by holding the ‘texting pose’. There is already evidence that more and more teenagers (and adults) are suffering from back and neck issues because they are continually looking at their phones (bending their necks down).
What will eventually be worse for them – texting or smoking? Who knows?
What can you do to control my phone usage?
There is a brilliant app on the iphone called Moment which records how much time you spend per day on your phone, and how many times you interact with it. One colleague recently who found that he was checking his phone over 200 times a day, and spending over 4 hours on it (that is 25% of his waking time!). I seem to average around 2.5 hours and about 40 pick ups a day – that in itself, while better than my colleague is still quite shocking.
Stand back and observe
Sometimes it’s great to people watch, reflect and resist the urge to join in. Just feel that temptation to make a grab for your phone next time you see someone else using theirs. Resist the urge, embrace life, and interact with others. Don’t get stuck in yet another bucket – trapped by the burden of technology.