Andile Tshuma on Health
Can you outsmart your smart phone? The problem is not necessarily the phones or that we have become addicted to them, but our mindless usage of the device.
Our phones have taken over much of the greater part of our lives. Tapping away on our mobile devices every hour of our awake moments, even tapping away in the dead of the night after a trip to the loo, has become normal, but is it?
We increasingly rely on our phones to be a personal assistant, providing directions, reminding us of birthdays, handling our banking needs, the list is endless.
Smart devices are sometimes empowering. They put a world of information at our fingertips. They free people to work from home avoiding the hectic morning rush. That is a huge boon for parents seeking flexible work hours. Smart phones and tablets can also promote efficiency by allowing people to get things done in spare moments that would otherwise be wasted, such as while queuing for coffee. They can even help slackers create the illusion that they are working around the clock, by programming their e-mail to be sent at 1AM.
We may ask ourselves these questions, joke about it at times and even self reflect it sometimes, how we just can’t do without our phones, however, as we begin to feel bad about being so attached to our gadgets, a notification of another message on Facebook or WhatsApp beeps and we again, for the umpteenth time of the day, get lost in our world of social networks, the internet, all thanks to Web 2.0.
Phones today have become omnipotent, omnipresent and omni-everything! In Zimbabwe over one million people are said to be using smart phones and the numbers are ever escalating. Our phones are what we use every day, for everything. Work, play, exercise, worship.
We have our Bibles, our worship songs, our friends, family, books, work mail, exercise applications, banking, and an assortment of many other things conveniently packaged in our phones. We can even do our shopping from the comfort of our couches using our phones. Buying groceries, clothes and meal deliveries are all made possible with a touch and a scroll.
I conducted a minor research during the week amongst friends and family. I selected 20 interviewees and asked them simple questions, if they could spend a week without their family in solitary confinement, or a week without their phones but with friends and family around. Sixteen of the people I sent the questions to said they didn’t mind being locked up for days as long as they had the company of their phones. That’s just how bad it is.
Due to our mindless usage of it, our phones have become toxic.
Check yourself before you check your phone. Ask yourself — am I expecting something earth shatteringly urgent, a critical message, a life-altering post, an email that will change the world? If not, defer it and check every two hours. It’s easy and works.
Make a start; rediscover the joy of talking to a real human being. A desire not to miss out on anything that might be happening with friends, celebrities and even mild acquaintances on social media has fuelled this tech addition.
At the same time, the conventional working day has effectively been killed off with people dealing with work emails from the moment they wake until their head hits the pillow at night.
Rather than living in the moment, enjoying their surroundings and relating to real people, young smart phone addicts are more focused on the screen, constantly searching for something more interesting elsewhere.
People’s entire persona is shaped by the selfies they upload to the many and various social media accounts they use.
What can be done to keep smart phones in their place? How can we reap the benefits of connectivity without becoming its slaves? One solution is digital dieting. Just as the abundance of junk food means that people have to be more disciplined about their eating habits, so the abundance of junk information means they have to be more disciplined about their browsing habits.
The faster smart phones become more alluring, the stronger the addiction will grow.
The influence of cell phones and their effects on human health are still being tested and studied. There is no one single opinion if cell phones bring harm to human’s health. However, addiction and huge reliance on cell phones carry some risks on human development and health. The risks are emotional, physical, social and psychological. A smart phone is an e-toy designed for the lonely inner child hidden in each and every one of us.
Another equally destructive device in the home is the television set. How much of it do you consume, and how much of it is worth your time? Next week, we will share on how to manage our screen time, to enjoy the most of our moments with the remote control without being slaves of the programmes we so much love. Till then, watch out and remind your smart phone who’s the boss.
For feedback, views and comments to make your Saturday health read better, send a message to 0778502449, email [email protected] or catch up with me on Twitter handle @andile_tshuma.