Ah, smartphones. They’re great, right? You can do everything with these little buggers: listen to music, chat with your buddies, call your parents, take pictures... you can even watch entire movies on these things. That’s pretty insane considering how far cell phones have come in just 10 years’ time. Of course, now that we have more reasons to spend more time on our phones, sometimes we forget that there are times where using a smartphone might not be such a great idea.
Society has gotten to a point where it’s almost acceptable to see somebody on their smartphone at just about any given time. Think waiting rooms, just before going to sleep or just after waking up in the morning, while shopping, at a concert, in the park... anywhere, really, you can probably picture somebody whipping their phone out for one reason or another and find a logical reason to use it at that particular time and place. But even if there is some sort of logic behind the reasoning, that doesn’t always mean it’s the best idea. Taking it a step further, it’s also not uncommon to see people use smartphones in the company of others, when they should be paying attention to their children, or what’s worse, while driving. It might only be two scenarios, but using your smartphone during these two scenarios can actually cause quite a bit of damage in the end.
It’s one thing to use your phone briefly to respond to a text or check a notification, but it’s another when that quick phone check turns into a total distraction and you’re now ignoring the other person, or people, in your group completely. I’ve been guilty of this myself, and I can’t really explain how it happens - but I do know that it’s inappropriate and nobody likes spending time with people who are constantly on their phones and paying absolutely no attention to the company at hand. Surprisingly enough, you can miss out on a lot when you’re engrossed in your phone during a conversation or a movie, and I don’t know a lot of people who like going over the same information that was just discussed because somebody was too busy checking Facebook or Twitter in the mean time.
In the scenario when you’re supposed to be spending time with somebody else, it’s a good idea to learn the “check and go” method. Check your phone, and if it’s not important, let it go for later. If it is important, then your company should be understanding.
Fortunately, social situations are pretty easy to fix once you realize that it’s a problem. One scenario that isn’t as easy to fix is distracted driving. Drivers paying more attention to their smartphones only seem to be increasing lately instead of decreasing, and it completely baffles me. Smartphones actually make it fairly easy for appropriate hands-free use while driving, yet people never seem to take the time to set it up. Instead, they’ll make a turn, ignore a stoplight, or completely disregard the fact that anybody else is driving on the road for the sake of some text message or social media notification on their phone. Sometimes they’ll get away with it. Sometimes they won’t.
So I honk. I honk and I make a terribly ugly face, because I’m concerned about your safety and the safety of others and that’s all I can do. Sometimes we forget that these comfortable vehicles with their heated seating and pleather covers actually weigh one to two tons and can easily negatively impact or even end someone’s life. Not being on your smartphone won’t completely alleviate this problem, but by paying attention to the road you can certainly help. Nobody should depend on other drivers to always look out for you - you need to 100% pay attention to the road yourself.
I’m not telling you these things because I’m completely innocent. There’s still one more scenario that I haven’t talked about in depth, and that’s the one that I was most guilty of not too long ago - smartphoning when I should be parenting.
I’ve never had an incident where my son was ever in any danger, but something I did realize was that I should be spending this time playing with him instead of haphazardly paying attention. I should be coloring with him, putting puzzles together with him, and playing tablet games with him instead of handing him this stuff and expecting him to make the most of it. So I stopped caring so much about what all my smartphone can do during the day when my son is awake. Instead, its purpose is to be used as a phone: I get texts, e-mails, and phone calls, and that’s it. No more Facebooking, no more shopping, no more reading lengthy stories, and no more Netflix unless it’s something that my son wants to watch, and then we watch it together.
I want my son to embrace technology, not think of it as something that gave him an absent-minded mother. The amount of time I would spend paying attention to my phone when he was younger is something I will always regret, but I feel good now knowing that I was able to address it and fix it.
Sometimes it’s hard tearing ourselves away from our phones, but sometimes it’s necessary in order to retain some normalcy in our lives and not get sucked in to a completely virtual world. I love my phone, but I don’t value it more than my life or my relationships with people. We have to remember that when we start to lose that focus, because it’s an easy focus to lose sight of.