I do believe one day we will all own a smart phone. I am not sure when that day will come, but eventually they will be as ubiquitous as automobiles or Social Security cards. They will replace virtually everything we now carry in our wallet or purse; credit cards, drivers licences, pictures, and bus tickets. That’s not entirely a bad thing.
That being said, they do get in the way. New laws are proliferating to prevent their usage in cars, every check out clerk has had to point out the “NO TALKING ON CELL PHONES” signs while they attempt to wait on an oblivious customer, and thieves can easily crack into their shells remotely and steal our most personal information.
I do make it a policy to never use my phone at the dinner table or even in the living room. I put my phone up in a basket on the top of the refrigerator when I come home each night. Yes, I do check it when the opportunity allows. We are quick to look up a funny YouTube video together when the mood strikes us. I need my baseball scores each morning. In the car, I’ve resorted to having my 10 year old son type out my texts for me if necessary. We’ve yet to institute hard and fast rules in the household around their use or “screen time.”
Smart Phones are a wonderful tool and the scope of their uses are expanding daily. They have replaced hand held cameras, they offer instant access to any news you seek, and who even listens to CD’s anymore? In our household, my wife owns an iPad (still one of her favorite Christmas gifts), my son and daughter each have an iPod, and I have an iPhone and iPod Nano just for music on the go. I’ll never delve into the many tools and apps that exist, but it’s reassuring to know I could if I ever needed to.
Do smart phones make me more productive? Debatable. It’s nice to have my emails read and cleared before I reach the office each day. I capture interesting books, thoughts or business names when I hear about one on the radio or see a company truck pass me by. Google maps (or the like) has helped me find many an obscure destination. Photos, music, games; we need a little of this each day to keep us balanced and focused. Could I live without it? Most likely.
I enjoyed Jeff Grahams recent piece about terminating his iPhone (Come With Me If You Want To Live – Why I Terminated My iPhone). I’ve met other business owners who are reverting back to simple flip phones, long the source of ridicule in the tech savvy world, just for calls and texts instead of Angry Birds and Words With Friends. I do not have plans to terminate mine. To the contrary, I’d rather give up my land line and not pay that bill each month. We recently cut the cord and converted to ROKU and tablets for our TV viewing in the household. Cable TV is on it’s way out. Mobile devices in all sizes and shapes are here to stay.
Mobile device use will continue to escalate and reshape how we communicate, relate and educate. I do my best to model the kind of behavior I’d like my children to emulate. Nothing replaces a highly contested game of Monopoly, a run at dusk with my daughter, or a long weekend in the woods, either by myself or with my family, to truly connect. I find it somewhat ironic that we call being without a smartphone or access to a strong signal as “disconnected,” when really that is when we are connected the MOST.