PUT DOWN PHONES AND START TALKING
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.
Entire businesses can be run on a smartphone.