May 23, 2013

Smartphones are making us dumb

This was my first cell phone, sexy right?  

I remember going to the mall with my mom and seeing a Motorola kiosk hidden in a corner of the mall.  I don't remember if I asked my mom for a cell phone or if she thought that I was old enough to have one,  but I remember that I got one that day.  It was a dark blue color  and was on the Siemens network, which is now AT&T.  Man, I thought I was the SHIT with that phone!  I even remember finding (I think my mom did on Ebay?) an 'N Sync "faceplate" for this phone, I really thought I was the coolest thing since sliced bread.    My phone had the ability to call, text and maybe play one game -- it wasn't color and was three times the size of the iPhone.  It was nothing special in today's standards, but back them it was awesome. Now, I wish that I could say my obsession with cell phones and the latest technology never started, but that very old (and very ugly) cell phone was just the start of everything. 

My 7 year old frequently asks me what we did for fun before cell phones, iPads, computers, real video games and electronic toys.  
"We used our imagination and played outside getting exercise." I always tell her. 
Apparently, using your imagination and actually running around with your friends outside is unheard of for 50% of children in this day and age.  That's because we have technology that fries our brains and does all of the thinking for us -- smart phones have literally made this generation dumb.  

I remember when I was 7 (back in 1992) and I had to use my imagination to play outside with my friends with our Barbies.  When our parents wouldn't let us take our Barbies outside, we had to actually come up with games to play that did not include toys.  My kids would be lost if they had to do the same things I did as a kid, it's pretty sad.

Technology and cell phones has definitely changed family life in our home.  When I was a child, our nights used to be filled with doing homework, eating dinner, taking a bath, watching some television as a family with the one TV we had in the living room, my mom would play with me with my dollhouse, puzzle, coloring books, etc... and then we would go to bed, reading a book together.  Now, it seems like everyone is in their own world.  I have my 5 year old on the iPad, my 7 year old on her iPod, my mom watching TV and myself constantly on my cell phone.  Is that what family time has come to now?  No one talking to each other or paying any attention to each other?  Secondly, technology has definitely promoted procrastination especially with my 7 year old.   She brings her iPod to the dinner table, she uses her iPod as an excuse to put off doing homework, she uses her iPod as an excuse to go to bed and I even find her in bed with her iPod at times.  I do admit, I haven't been too tough on her about it; mostly because I feel that I can't tell her not to do it when I do it myself.  

I actually never realized just how much technology has consumed us until recently when I saw, waiting in line, how many people were texting, playing games, on the phone, etc...  Up until that point I never paid too much attention to it, knowing that cell phones were a large part of everyone's lives.  I admit to being on my phone way too much when with friends, I also admit to sitting at a table with one of my best friends -- each of us on our phones, not talking to each other.  Where has actual human face-to-face communication gone?  Out with the times?  (To my friends who know that I am on my phone constantly -- I know, this is hypocritical of me to say.)

My mom brought up a good point the other day...
"Kids don't have to know anything anymore.  Whatever they want to know, they just google."
That's the truth.  My daughter came home the other day saying that she had to Google something she asked in class.  I asked her why she had to Google it and she told me that her teacher told her to Google the answer when she asked the question.  This is a first grade classroom, can't the teacher answer a simple question?  Is Google going to turn into our teachers in the future?  It sure seems like it from what I'm hearing from my daughter and other kids in her class.

While I do need my phone on me most of the time for my business, clients, etc... I do wish that there were times I could get away from my phone.  I actually feel panic and anxiety when I can't find it for 5 minutes or when I accidentally leave it at home when I run out to do errands, it's a very unhealthy fear that I wish I didn't have.  I don't have to keep refreshing my mail, but I do anyway -- what if that client e-mails me back and I don't respond immediately?  I know they're not going to magically disappear, but that fear is in the back of my mind, and it is an irrational fear too!

I just think it's sad and scary how technology has changed our lives and caused so much interruption when we are with others.  The part that is scarier?  It's just going to get worse as technology grows and advances, there's probably no end in sight for our obsessiveness with technology.

Are you addicted to your phone?  Is your family?