It’s almost hard to remember life before having a smartphone.
These devices have changed our lives so much, sometimes, making things easier for us, sometimes, they take away too much actual living from our lives.
I’m old enough to remember what it was like to have an analogue mobile phone – pretty much a black thing that was as big as a house brick with an antenna attached – in the mid-1990s. It was an 18th birthday present from my technology and safety-obsessed father who thought it would be a good thing for me to have at uni.
I was mortified, because nobody my age had a mobile phone. They were something owned by people we used to call “yuppies” and I liked to think I was much cooler than that. So it used to sit at the bottom of my backpack and I’d only ever fish it out if I needed to make an emergency call, which was, like, never. The only thing I liked about my Nokia 101 is that The X-Files character Fox Mulder, who I was completely in love with at the time, had the same model phone as me.
I can’t imagine any 18-year-olds today who would be embarrassed to be caught owning a mobile phone. In fact, they’re more likely to be embarrassed if they don’t have one!
The iPhone was released in 2007 and I admit, I didn’t understand the hype surrounding it. I’d had some awful phone a few years before my brother had talked me into owning that I could connect to the internet with, but it required pressing about 1000 buttons to do so, and I pretty much rage quit trying to use it after a few weeks. I just assumed the iPhone would be more of the same crap.
Then I had cause to play with one owned by a chap I was seated next to in a corporate box at a football match and I knew instantly I needed one in my life. I purchased my first one a few months later, in late 2008, and I’ve been using smartphones ever since.
According to research fro IAB Australia and Nielsen, more than 15 million Australians own a smartphone and around 12 million Aussies have a tablet device.
Most people use them for social networking, internet browsing, gaming and entertainment. They have business uses too.
But the more they have connected us to the internet, the more they are disconnecting us from other things in our lives, like families and friends, as we are attached to our devices all the time. Here are a few of the ways smartphones have changed our everyday lives:
1. The Dinner Table
I have a rule in my house that there are no phones, tablets, computers or other electronic gadgets allowed at the table because I just can’t deal with the thought of being one of those families who sit around looking at our devices while we eat, instead of talking to one another. But this is a very real problem in many households, this important family bonding time has been changed.
2. Watching TV
I’m guilty of this. I’ll often watch TV and browse Facebook on my phone at the same time, or Google spoilers, or check emails. If it’s one of my absolute favourite TV shows, I have made a rule for myself that I will put the phone in the other room so I can concentrate 100% on the show, old skool.
3. Work Meetings
Back in my day, if you were bored shitless in a work meeting, you just had to suck it up or doodle in your notebook or something. Nowadays, you can post a status update on Facebook about how much the meeting you are in sucks. If anyone asks why you’re looking at your phone, it’s because of your “urgent emails” that you can’t step away from for half an hour.
The rise of the “unplugged wedding” – where the bride and groom ask people to turn their phones off and try to be present for the ceremony – has come about because of the trend for every guest to sit there glued to their devices, watching through their screens and not with their eyes. The couple don’t need 1000 crappy mobile phone pictures.
They don’t need you to block their official photographer’s view by holding your iPad up during the ceremony. And fairly sure, the picture that will come off your kid’s Nintendo DS from the back row isn’t going to be anything great.
It used to be that the worst thing you’d have to deal with in the audience at a gig was maybe getting some crowd surfing dickhead’s Doc Marten connecting with your skull. Or maybe your view would be blocked by that one girl who had to get on her boyfriend’s shoulders right in front of you, and your friend Kate would start hurling water bottles at her in an attempt to topple the bitch. Ahem.
Today, you might be stuck behind someone who holds aloft their phone to poorly capture the concert on their device, even though they’ll probably never watch the footage again. It’s really distracting and super annoying.
6. Your Sex Life
If you’re spending more time in bed on your phone than you are paying attention to your other half, it might be one of the factors contributing to a significant decline in your sex life.
7. Your Sleeping Patterns
If you find you have problems nodding off after you’ve been surfing your phone or tablet in bed for a bit before trying to go to sleep, it’s actually quite common. Smartphones and tablets disrupt sleep because they emit what’s known as “blue” light. This light is then picked up by cells behind our eyeballs, communicating to our brains that it’s morning.
When you go on holidays, you should be trying to switch off, recharge, rejuvenate and maybe discover new places in the process. The old smartphone keeps you hooked in to your day-to-day life with social media, emails and so on. By all means, you should take photos, people always did that on holidays anyway, but do you really need 1000 hotdog legs selfies on the beach uploaded to Instagram in real time?
9. Spending time with family and friends
Social gatherings or quality time with the family can see us all silent, engrossed in our phones, even though we’re surrounded by people we love.