Vice or Device? 1/13

January 2013

I purchased my first cell phone almost twelve years ago when our eldest son turned twelve. This was our little bit of freedom. We could now leave the boys alone and they could reach us pretty much anywhere we would go during our little escapades. Peace of mind for $10 a month – sublime! 

Believe it or not, I was still paying only $10 a month (with only a slightly different phone) up until last month when I bought my first smart phone. Yes, I’ve pretty much always been on the leading edge of technology!

That first phone was just a phone. Period. And not even a good one at that. Well, my iPhone 5 is also a camera, clock, calendar, newspaper, world map, music player and of course a personal computer that’s connected to the world wide web. And it talks to me! My phone is so smart! It does EVERYTHING! 

But you’ve known this for years, haven’t you? You’re probably reading this on your phone. I’ve been watching.

My cell phone has always stayed in my purse. Since I got my smart phone, I find myself carrying it around (because that’s what I’ve seen you doing) like something important is going to happen.

Nothing important has happened.

Indulge me a moment. I am still astonished by the power we can hold in our hands to communicate, consolidate, automate, investigate, and of course entertain. It’s an amazing asset, really. . . . Or is it? Has your phone become more of a liability? 

It’s easy to disappear into the ether where you don’t have to actually talk to people (ironic given this device is a phone). You can become totally unconscious of where you are, who you’re with and what you’re doing if you’re not intentional and present. If you want to, you can even avoid feeling your feelings or accomplishing anything significant.

The downside of this personal device is that we can become so dependent on it, hence easily addicted, as we are to desktop computers. But the danger is even greater with phones because, apparently, they are ALWAYS with us. Waiting for that adrenaline buzz from the buzz in your pocket is just not healthy.

You know if you’re addicted by how you feel when you’re without it. You can be without it, can’t you? Oops.

The Calgary CTV News website says, “A new report by Roger’s Communication shows 65 per cent of Canadians feel naked without their smart phone and internet access.”

According to the Edmonton Journal, “Young adults have been found to spend up to seven hours a day using communication technology. For some, it can become a compulsion, while others suffer feelings of withdrawal if they are separated from their phone, a study found.”

There’s a tongue-in-cheek name for this condition – nomophobia – coined by British researchers in 2008.

“The impulse to constantly check a mobile phone for messages is similar to the feeling people get when they’re playing slot machines at a casino, according to a psychology professor,” says the CBC website.

Well, my new phone is certainly a lot of fun, but it’s not Vegas. I don’t think I’m the addictive type. I have ‘no phone zones’ and practice being with the one I’m with. That works for me.

Like food, alcohol or the slots, mobile devices can easily fill a void, if there is one, and become addictive. You can use your phone to help solve a problem or create one. It’s your choice, and you know, there’s an app for that.

MobileHealthNews reports that there are more than 13,600 health and fitness apps available from Apple’s iTunes store. I didn’t have time to look at all of them, but here are a few I thought looked interesting. They vary in availability options like free to fee, iphone or android platforms.

Buddhify 

Fooducate

You are your own gym

Now to get them and use them. How do I do this again?