Monday, May 16, 2016

     Did you know that, according to recent research, “young adults are profligate mobile phone users, sending an average 109.5 texts and checking their phones around 60 times in a typical day?” It should not come as a surprise to any of you out there that our society, not just our young people, has become consumed with digital devices. Statistics in every demographic have risen to “addiction” proportions. “So what?” you might say. I say, So, we all need to look at our own daily device use and ask ourselves what dangers lurk.  I suggest that as with any addiction, the cure is simply learning how to manage the behavior.

     There are three obvious dangers to consider:

1.  Phone use andTexting while driving
            2.  Phone use and Texting while walking
            3.  Phone use and texting in place of face to face communication

     The first two issues cause obvious dangers to a person’s well-being. An increasing number of auto accidents have been blamed on texting or talking while driving. People have been known to walk off bridges, fall in pot holes or walk into walls while engaging in cell phone use. The reason is “the distracted brain.” When we are dividing our focus between one or more activities, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that we are putting ourselves and passengers in jeopardy. Peripheral blindness is compromised and reaction time is delayed, both of which can result in disastrous consequences.

     In my opinion, as daunting as such statistics may be, it is as disheartening to realize that our thumbs have become more important than our lips in communicating with one another. We hook up and break up by phone. We insult and bully by phone. We avoid people by phone. We abbreviate feelings by phone. When our thumbs replace our lips, we are at a loss when face to face to express ourselves. Vocabulary deteriorates. Grammar disappears. We can’t spell anymore, and we don’t know how to express ourselves in conventional sensitive language. We become powerful in our anonymity, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

       What’s the answer? Common sense. Manage the mania. We certainly cannot expect anyone in this day and age to stop using technology; our world is consumed by it. Every day, new apps are surfacing to suck us in even more to the feckless phone phobia. Ask yourself if you could or would want to function for an entire week without your digital devices. How different would your world be? Researchers know that cell phones are a tool and a status symbol coveted by our conspicuous consumptive society. So how do we manage? Monitor your own use for a day. Realize that you are the techno role model for your children, and alter your behavior accordingly. 

     I say, “Thumbs up, America.”