If you’ve been on the internet within the last month, chances are you’ve come across this ad by the Alamo Drafthouse featuring a message left by a disgruntled customer who was kicked out of the theater after texting repeatedly. Even if you haven’t seen it, you’ve doubtless heard reports of mobile addiction that affects our manners, our sleep patterns, and our overall health, including some brand new physical disorders such as “TTT” (Texting Teen Tendonitis). There are online guides for identifying mobile addiction, blogs about the daily life of the mobile addict, and study after study after study.
Of course, we’re not suggesting this issue isn’t meant to be taken seriously. If you’re one of those people who hasn’t turned their phone off since the day they purchased it, it might be time to stick it in a drawer and go outside with a ball and a glove and your children. That said, according to one recent study, the benefits of smartphones often outweigh any perceived problems caused by their overuse. Commissioned by as unlikely an entity as MTV, the study showed that a striking 91% of those polled stated that mobile apps exposed them to new things; 75% believe that apps give them more time to relax, and lastly, a full 70% stated that mobile apps make their lives better.
To be sure, we still sigh (or curse) collectively when a phone goes off in a movie theater, but what many of the addiction reports fail to take into account is the ever-increasing versatility of the smartphone itself. We don’t take our phones on hiking trips in the San Juan mountains because we want to check Facebook updates and furiously text our friends (that’s a picture of Twilight Peak above Chicago Basin by the way – check it out if you ever get the chance), but because we’d like to have a compass handy, and not end up like that chap who was stuck under a boulder in Utah for five days. That’s just one example among thousands wherein smartphones and the mobile apps that are available for them are making human life easier.
So yes, if you’re at the dinner table with your family or in a movie theater, turn it off, and keep an eye on your kids if they’re spending too much time with their phones. But also keep in mind that where mobile apps are concerned, most news is good news.