21 February 2017
Could you put down your phone and leave it for an hour? Would you be comfortable not having your phone out on the dinner table?
A new study by a university in Hungary has shown that mobile phones are used as a substitute for real human interaction – in the same way that babies can be comforted by a blanket when they’re away from their parents. The participants in the study showed signs of stress within a matter of minutes of free time without their phones. That, to me, is disturbing to hear.
But it is clear to see that we’re becoming increasingly dependent on these devices for more than the functional purpose they’re created to be. Look around the office, your home; I’d bet there are phones on desks, next to people – usually within arm’s reach.
Upstairs in our house is a no-phone zone. With four daughters – including a 13-year-old and a ten-year-old – mobile phones are becoming an increasingly discussed topic in the Jones household and we’ve had to put some strict rules in place. I don’t want my children’s social skills to be negatively impacted because of their focus on technology to communicate instead of learning the essential face-to-face communication skills.
We’ve also introduced similar rules into the workplace at UKFast. There are no phones on the table when we have a meeting of any kind – especially a board meeting. Having your phone on the table shows that you’re waiting for a better offer of entertainment – the person that you’re sitting with isn’t engaging enough, and you need outside information too. Personally, I think it’s extremely rude and it is not the impression that I would want my team to leave people with.
Nomophobia, as it is now called (no-mobile-phobia) is becoming a big issue; the BBC reports that it affects as many as four in five young people.
Whilst smartphones are incredibly useful and can be used to increase efficiency, they can also be an extraordinary time zap, losing hours on social media or games, and they can easily mean losing out on real-life connections with people.
How do you find balance with your devices?