In a relationship with the smartphone

By Shaikha Shuhada Panzeree

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You wake up, you slip your hand under the pillow, ferreting around the bedside table and you look for your phone, your smartphone. You get out, on a rickshaw, bus or in your car; you have your hands full, your phone and your headset. You come home after a hectic day; you have your loyal companion with you in the bed, your smartphone. In no way you want to lose it and nomophobia is the name of the game.

In a market full of these smartphones, alluring, obviously for the bright touch screens and virtual keyboard, with cheaper prices everyday and numerous features of different kind, what should stop a person from not grabbing the ‘smartest’ one of those when they can afford it? Even if someone cannot afford, why not borrow some money for it or pressure the earning members of the family, because without one, a person would simply look backdated or ‘unsmart’ or poor (even if that is the case), and that cannot happen!

Proving the agenda of the government to build a digital Bangladesh successful, Bangladeshis in general have invested themselves in their smartphones (and other modern technologies too), regardless of their age. The tendency of taking selfies, checking their social media pages every now and then- even while being out with a group with the intention of socialising, the young generation has the lion share of this blame of having a relationship with their smartphones. But, what often goes unnoticed is the fact that, older people too, have started a rather awkward yet quite interesting friendship with the invention of the modern age. They are learning their way through it and not to mention, having fun! You know it when you see your parents are more concerned about the Wi-Fi not working than you are.

This could be all good! But let’s see if it really is. Through the years, researches have been conducted, shocking statistics have been found, people read articles or watched videos of those on their smartphones, got worried and forgot after watching another funny YouTube video.

If anyone looks at their household now, pretty much everyone, starting from the young ones to the elders of a middle class to higher class family, owns at least one smartphone. The rural areas are not left behind either, using the cheaper ones, they too are exploring into the world of apps and internet. Nowadays, seeing toddlers playing with smartphones, is not even anything surprising, just another daily common scenario!

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The estimated smartphone users in the world numbers in billions, by 2018 over a third of world’s population would own a smartphone, and by 2020, the projected number of smartphone users is 2.87 billion. Banglsdesh, still being a developing country, according to the 2015 Brookings Financial and Digital Inclusion Project (FDIP) report, the country came second in global ranking for smartphone score.

Not that these many numbers of smartphones have not done anything good, this device has successfully become a medium of education and e-learning. Quick access to things that previously could have been done with personal computers or other high-end devices only, has made smartphones the devices to be worshipped.

What comes as an opportunity cost, is the inevitable addiction, or as we would rather conveniently put it, a relationship with our smartphones. The number of smartphone addicts are almost half as the number of owners, hated as it is for being the fuel to the apparently trivial showcase of anti-social mindset among people, the risks are higher, at times beyond repair.

These phones, the source of daylong entertainment and medium of connectivity, may actually end up triggering severe depression in individuals as it rather creates a feeling of detachment and isolation. Socially awkward teenagers are more susceptible to this risk than the adults, but in any case, the risk reaches the same level for adults who want to refrain from social activities for many given reasons. Along with depression, growing OCDs is an add-on, as we compulsively keep organising our lives through the smartphones. Let’s face it, they rule our lives, starting from when we have to eat, call a friend, take a medicine to due period dates, meetings, appointments; our smartphones are no Jon Snow.

Calling someone a smartphone addict, becomes legit, why so one may wonder! A few researches have shown, one’s craving for physically holding this device on hand and for finding peace in surfing through it, stimulates the same centres of the brain as of a drug addict.

Becoming more dependent on the phones day by day, becoming anti-social, losing sleep and being rewarded with insomnia, distractions all over resulting in poor performances in every step of the ladder, losing passion and patience for both physical and mental works, having a hard time remembering things as a result of unfocused attention, are just a few of the outcomes we are making ourselves go through, simply because we cannot control, our desire for the indulgence in a tiny smartphone.

Do you not now think, if not breaking up with them entirely, because we do need them, keeping a healthy distance may make your relationship with smartphones, a non-fatal one?