Have apps Killed Our abil­ity to adult?

Dat­ing apps kick­started the dat­ing apoca­lypse; oth­ers showed us we could get some­one to do our sh!tty jobs for us. Now that there are apps for ba­si­cally ev­ery­thing, are they ru­in­ing our ca­pac­ity to think?

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - Feel -

“How do I or­der food when my phone is all the way over there?”

“To solve a prob­lem, we’re us­ing less brain power.”

76: That’s how many apps I have on my phone.

Not in­clud­ing the ones pre-in­stalled by Ap­ple. Seventy-six apps I felt I truly couldn’t live with­out. I’ve got ev­ery­thing from Face­book and In­sta­gram, to Tin­der, Poké­mon Go, and some app that makes it look like you’re bald (weird, but I felt it nec­es­sary to down­load one day at the pub). There are apps to mea­sure my heart­beat, to or­der food, to hire a car, to put a bor­der on a pic, and to check the weather more specif­i­cally than the Ap­ple app does. Then there are the apps to sell things, to buy things, and to make peo­ple do things for me, like fetch my gro­ceries. Ba­si­cally, my life is in my phone. I ain’t alone.

I’m will­ing to bet my breakfast you can spot your phone out of the cor­ner of your eye. And with 85 per­cent of us ap­par­ently choos­ing mo­bile apps over web­sites, there is sup­ply meet­ing de­mand—in the Ap­ple App Store alone there are 2.2 mil­lion apps for IOS de­vices. Sud­denly my 76 doesn’t sound so bad. But be­fore you sur­ren­der to the phone gods, clin­i­cal neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist Ash Nay­ate sees two prob­lems with the spread of apps.

“The first one comes with so­cial me­dia,” she be­gins. “We can ask any ques­tion and un­like Google, where we have to col­late the in­for­ma­tion and syn­the­size it in our head, our friends are do­ing it for us via so­cial me­dia. In or­der to solve a prob­lem, we’re us­ing less brain power. Se­condly, apps are a dis­trac­tion and we’re shift­ing to­wards us­ing the con­ve­niences as a paci­fier rather than us­ing our time for more com­plex prob­lem­solv­ing tasks.”

You see, we’re get­ting less prac­ticed at the skills we were ex­pected to know 10 years ago with­out the aid of an app. Think about math—it’s al­most okay not to be good at math, and I know I’m rub­bish. But it doesn’t mat­ter be­cause I’ve got a cal­cu­la­tor on my phone, and Sa­fari as a backup if I can’t even fig­ure out how to find a so­lu­tion via the cal­cu­la­tor. It goes much fur­ther than math when it comes to the skills we’re slowly los­ing the ca­pac­ity for, too.

Think dat­ing. It’s cer­tainly a skill, honed through evo­lu­tion and ma­tu­rity. But with the pop­u­lar­ity of apps, we’re slowly los­ing that skill, or it’s evolv­ing into some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Ei­ther way, we’re lazy. Think Wing­man, the app that launched in April that lets your friends steer your dat­ing life—you lit­er­ally aren’t ac­tively us­ing that skill any­more. If that is too dystopic for you, apps Crushh, Her­oboyfriend, and Break-up Boss are the lat­est (paid) apps on the block that will help take care of your whole love life, from fig­ur­ing out if your crush likes you based on text mes­sages to plan­ning your dates, and then help­ing you deal with a breakup, in that or­der. From heart-eyed emo­jis to an ac­tual breakup, you don’t have to make any de­ci­sions as to how you play the dat­ing game.

Cou­pled up? Ha! You’re still los­ing skills! We’re hav­ing our food de­liv­ered with­out hav­ing to cook it our­selves, cars are com­ing to pick us up with­out hav­ing to call a taxi com­pany and use our words, and three­hour de­liv­ery is there for a dress if we don’t like the one we wore to work. We’re cat­e­gor­i­cally more im­pa­tient, Nay­ate says, as we’ve some­how lost the art of de­layed grat­i­fica- tion that we in­her­ited when we be­gan to ma­ture.

Still, be­fore you de­spair and go off the grid, there is a good side: we’re also get­ting smarter! Sure, we might be los­ing all our so­cial skills and be­com­ing less prac­ticed in the art of adult­ing, while also turn­ing into a bunch of im­pa­tient brats who wait for no man, but with all that time saved not hail­ing cabs or do­ing long di­vi­sion, we’re able to fo­cus more on the kinds of com­plex brain ex­er­cises and in­for­ma­tion we weren’t able to ded­i­cate time to in the past.

“One thing psy­chol­ogy knows is that our in­tel­li­gence as a so­ci­ety is go­ing up,” says Nay­ate. “These mod­ern con­ve­niences give us more time to de­vote to learn­ing. Things as sim­ple as a dic­tionary— there was a time we had to go and look some­thing up; now we can just go through our phone.”

But where do we cross the line be­tween get­ting smarter and ru­in­ing hu­man­ity? We’re at least an­other 10 years away from ro­bots in our homes, so we need to bridge the gap be­fore we’re all me­an­der­ing around in a pseudo-zom­bie state, phone clutched in palm. The first step to claim­ing back our brains? A whole lotta au­dit­ing.

“Ob­jec­tively look at what you want out of your re­la­tion­ships and health and fit­ness and what you achieve—start with that life­style au­dit,” says Nay­ate. “If there is a gap, that signals a prob­lem. Then do a time au­dit by mea­sur­ing what you do ev­ery hour on the hour. It’s amaz­ing how much time we can lose. Aware­ness is 95 per­cent of the so­lu­tion, teamed with self-dis­ci­pline. Once you know where you’re go­ing wrong, you can be more in­ten­tional about where you spend your time and, thus, your brain­power.” Hmmm, I won­der if there’s an app for that...

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