Smartphones may make life easier, but how are they affecting us socially?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: October 19, 2013

I love smartphones. I've always loved cell phones to begin with, but I am still very much amazed at how much phones have progressed. From flip phones to these giant hunks of hardware that can do more than I could have ever imagined a phone doing, smartphones are certainly something to marvel. Smartphones can certainly make our lives easier for us as we use them for everyday tasks such as checking the calendar, as alarm clocks, as a calculator, as a phonebook and more. But as smartphones keep progressing with new ways to make our lives easier, are they hindering our natural need for social interactions?

I realize lately that there are less and less things that I actually, physically have to go out and do now-a-days than when I did when I was younger. Meaning, there were certain things that I would go and do that I don't necessarily have to do anymore. Although I also see this as a convenience, because most of these interactions wouldn't be deemed acceptable to do in my pajamas and my hair looking like a hot mess otherwise, there's still the question that I have to ask that makes me wonder if I'm missing out on something. Like, that I'm missing out on something that, as a human, I might need to be doing.

When I first started working for PhoneDog, I wrote an article that questioned whether we had become addicted to our phones. Without really needing to delve too deep into the article, it's pretty clear that at least I was addicted. I had a bad habit of caring less about the conversation happening in front of me rather than one that was constantly ongoing in my pocket. I lived for the buzz of a text message, and had a bad habit of needing to check it as soon as I possibly could. I have since re-assessed just how important text messages are and realized that there is a reason they were sent in text form, and that's so I could respond to them at my earliest convenience. That doesn't necessarily mean they should be checked right away. If something that was said in a text message was that important, they probably should have made a phone call.

But it's not just text messages that are possibly crippling certain social aspects of our lives. There is so much more that we can do with our phones now than just communicate with our friends, family and colleagues. Things that we normally would get up and leave our house for is no longer a necessity. And yes, it is a convenience, but at the same time it makes me question just how far smartphones and corresponding applications will take it before we hardly ever have a real reason to leave the house anymore.

For example, back when I was younger and a new movie came out, my dad or brother would take me up to the local Blockbuster or some other video joint to rent one. But with apps like Netflix, Hulu+, Amazon Prime Instant Video and other similar applications, these video stores are no longer necessary. Not only is it more convenient to instantly stream a video anytime you want to from just about any device with a screen, but it's also so much cheaper. Also, you don't have to silently curse the kid that took the last copy of that movie that you initially came in to rent. Digital streaming means there's enough copies for everybody!

And what about banking? You hardly ever have a reason to go to the bank now. We can do transfers and check deposits straight from our phones as well. You can order a pizza from just about any pizza joint through an app on your phone. You can shop from almost any store over the Internet that you have access to right on your phone. You can get FedEx to pick up and ship a package for you. You can just do so many things from your smartphone now!

But it's convenient, that's for sure. While I do question what this is doing to our social practices, I also realize that it's my choice to continue to use these services because they're just more convenient. It's just that when you take the time to see how far we have come, where we are right now, and also where this could be heading, it's a little strange to realize just how antisocial society is becoming. At least, that's where we seem to be headed.

Image via CNN