PUT DOWN PHONES AND START TALK­ING

New Straits Times - - LETTERS - RUEBEN ANANTHAN SANTHANA DASS Pe­tal­ing Jaya, Se­lan­gor

TRAV­EL­LING on the train to and from work ev­ery day, I no­tice that at least nine out of 10 peo­ple are glued to their smart­phone screens.

Fam­i­lies are not talk­ing to each other but are look­ing at their phones when din­ing at home or restau­rants.

If you asked, “What would you do if you didn’t have your phone for a day?” a re­ply would be, “I’ll prob­a­bly die with­out my phone.”

Age is no bar­rier to be­com­ing hooked to the hand­phone. Peo­ple want to com­mu­ni­cate vir­tu­ally rather than phys­i­cally.

Smart­phones have many ad­van­tages. They are one of the great­est in­no­va­tions of the 21st cen­tury. Al­most any­thing can be done with it. En­tire busi­nesses could be run on a smart­phone.

If you are stranded in an un­known place, all you need to do is use the Grab app and a driver will pick you up.

You can get food de­liv­ered through the hand­phone, book cin­ema tick­ets, make on­line pay­ments, man­age your fit­ness and health, and learn a new lan­guage.

And not for­get­ting video calls, which are a life­saver for those liv­ing abroad and far from fam­ily and loved ones.

This is un­like 10 years ago where a five-minute call from abroad would cost you a bomb.

Apps such as What­sApp have made com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the spread of in­for­ma­tion lim­it­less.

How­ever, with ev­ery tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion, there is a down­side.

Peo­ple are so hooked to their phones that they be­come an­ti­so­cial.

Some fam­i­lies spend their “fam­ily time” by look­ing at their smart­phones.

Smart­phones have also led to health prob­lems.

Over-ex­po­sure, es­pe­cially in dark places, leads to eye­strain and other oph­thal­mo­log­i­cal prob­lems.

Re­cent stud­ies pub­lished in the Jour­nal of So­cial and Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­ogy have shown a cor­re­la­tion be­tween the time spent on so­cial me­dia and the level of de­pres­sion, lone­li­ness and anx­i­ety among youth.

This is be­cause so­cial me­dia gives a false im­pres­sion of peo­ple’s lives.

One tends to look at the lives of oth­ers and think that theirs is cooler or hap­pier than their own.

Smart­phones pose a par­ent­ing chal­lenge to those with young chil­dren. Most chil­dren are ex­posed to smart­phones at an early age.

Par­ents re­sort to smart­phones to pacify their chil­dren and keep them quiet.

Board games, such as Mo­nop­oly, snakes and lad­ders and chess, have be­come bor­ing, old­fash­ioned ac­tiv­i­ties given that vir­tual games can be played on smart­phones.

If not mon­i­tored, kids may be ex­posed to pornog­ra­phy and get used to vi­o­lence.

There is a fine line be­tween chil­dren’s over-ex­po­sure and un­der-ex­po­sure to tech­nol­ogy.

By not ex­pos­ing them to tech­nol­ogy, kids may run the risk of be­ing left out.

Ex­pose them too much and they may be at risk of health prob­lems, ad­dic­tion and the in­flu­ence of the “dark side” of the In­ter­net.

There­fore, par­ents need to strike a bal­ance be­tween the amount of time they al­low their chil­dren to spend on tech­nol­ogy and the time spent on other ac­tiv­i­ties.

Smart­phones should not be used as an easy way out when it comes to dis­tract­ing chil­dren.

Par­ents should find out­door ac­tiv­i­ties such as sports to keep their kids oc­cu­pied in­stead of coop­ing them up in­doors.

We have to ac­knowl­edge the fact that we can­not live with­out smart­phones.

How­ever, we need to be ma­ture in the way we use smart­phones and it re­mains in our own hands not to al­low them to take over our lives.

I think the one thing we should all do is put our phones down, look into the faces of our loved ones — be they par­ents, hus­band, wife, girl­friend, boyfriend or sib­lings — and have a con­ver­sa­tion.

FILE PIC

En­tire busi­nesses can be run on a smart­phone.

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