Human Live and the cost of using smartphones

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Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・English ・APA ・6 Sources

The advent of cell phones has contributed to a great deal of progress in human life, affecting nearly every area of human livelihood. The handset represents more than just a networking gadget at the moment, with many features integrated into it. The concern, however, is whether these technological advances are solely advantageous to human existence, or whether they come with hidden costs. This article deciphers the proposal that the use of smartphones is costing human life. The paper reflects on the distraction created by the use of a smartphone. An analysis of the effects that these distractions have on the quality of human life is then carried out. First of all, it was observed that the distraction that comes about due to the use of smartphones is a probable cause of fatal accidents, mainly on roads. Moreover, these distractions both on the driver and pedestrians increase the risk of accidents which may be fatal, hence leading to the loss of human life. Road users thus need to be more careful and laws need to be put in place prohibiting the use of mobile phones while driving or even when crossing the road. Secondly, the distractions caused by the overuse of mobile phones lead to declining performances by students and employees alike. Learning institutions and employers need to monitor the use of mobile devices to discourage the kind of distraction that may put students and employees off course. Finally, distraction by smartphones has the effect of hindering human to human interactions and relationships. In conclusion, the smartphone is indispensable as it offers tremendous benefits to the user and improves human life. However, these few distractions which have negative effects on human life need to be dealt with to ensure the maximum benefits over costs of this wonderful technology.

Introduction

The invention of the mobile phone has been one of the most monumental occurrences of the 21st century. The mobile phone has transformed human lives immensely with the communication industry experiencing remarkable improvements courtesy of the invention of this gadget. Furthermore, the mobile device has impacted shopping, banking, and the entertainment industries in ways that had previously been unprecedented. The initial mobile phone gadget, commonly referred to as the feature phone (Klingebiel & Joseph, 2016), had limited functionality which mainly included receiving and making calls as well as the sending and receiving of Short Message Service (SMS). Significant improvements, however, have taken place on the mobile phone and eventually led to the smartphone, whose functionality and sophistication is way better than that of the feature phone. Nowadays, mobile phone users can do way more than just calling and texting. These improvements, however, have not come without a cost. This paper examines the proposition that the use of smartphones has come at a huge cost on the general livelihood of humankind. The approach of this paper will be that of cause and effect, examining one cause and three effects.

Smartphones Cause Distraction

The use of the smartphone has contributed greatly to distractions of people from their main objectives and eventually affecting human lives negatively. As the smartphone has multiple functionalities, this often leads to the user focusing his/her attention on less productive or even risky activities on the mobile phone. Smartphone users often find themselves engaged in various activities involving the mobile phone like chatting or receiving calls while driving. Furthermore, gaming and entertainment applications on smartphones are often addictive leading to time mismanagement and eventually less productivity either in the classroom or at the workplace (David, Kim, Brickman, Ran & Curtis, 2015). Furthermore, the interactions that have been encouraged by the smartphone have come at the expense of actual face to face human interactions. It is not uncommon nowadays to see most of the people at a social gathering on their smartphones instead of interacting with the people who are physically present around them. These effects of the distractions which come about due to the overuse of the smartphone are further analyzed below.

Distraction Leads to Accidents

The prime and most obvious casualties of the distraction from the smartphone have arguably been reported due to driving and using the smartphone concurrently on our roads. According to Strayer, Drews, and Crouch (2006), the relative risk of a driver being involved in an accident while using their mobile phone is equivalent to that of a drunk driver with blood alcohol level at the legal limit. Data presented by Törnros and Bolling (2005) indicates that a test on drivers driving and using their mobile phones presented a lot of difficulties on the mental effort of these drivers, often leading to them disobeying traffic signs, failing to give proper indications and generally making mistakes, despite having have slowed down their vehicles. Text messaging while driving proved to have the most effect on drivers, according to Törnros and Bolling (2005). On the other hand, pedestrians on their mobile phones crossing roads highly increase the risk of getting knocked down.

Drivers often get highly distracted by incoming text messages and calls. Distractions caused by the smartphone highly affect the reaction time of drivers and pedestrians alike. The short glance at an incoming text message may mean that the driver did not see the pedestrian who just got on the zebra-crossing (Sherin et al., 2014 ). From the analysis above, driving while on the mobile phone is just at the brink of drunk driving. A mistake which would have been otherwise easily corrected can thus escalate into a fatal accident simply because the driver is destructed by the mobile phone. This mistake can occur as a result of either the actions of the driver, other drivers who share the road, or even pedestrians. Because accidents are as a result of a series of mistakes and rarely a single mistake, the first mistake involving a driver who was driving while on the phone is usually that; driving while on the phone. It is recommended that road users restrain from using their mobile phones while driving or even crossing the road. Furthermore, governments and federal bodies are encouraged to come up with tough penalties for road users who go against legislation criminalizing the use of mobile phones while on the road.

Effects of Distractions on Productivity

Productivity both at the workplace and in the classroom can be greatly lowered due to distractions emanating from the smartphone. The smartphone has become highly indispensable by both the student and the working class. The phone helps these two groups not only in communication but also in research and entertainment. This very helpful device, however, can be misused due to its multiple capabilities. For instance, often students can engage in social network interactions on their smartphones, remote gaming competitions, or even chatting on the increasing number of chatting platforms provided by the smartphones. Over-engaging in such activities can come at the cost of academic activities and engagements. The same scenario applies to the working class, especially millennials, who instead of engaging in activities aimed at meeting the employer’s goals, may be engaged in interactions with friends and family, and sometimes even complete strangers, through the use of these powerful mobile devices. Beland and Murphy (2016) note that the banning of mobile phones in schools has led to a significant improvement in student test scores. This ban, however, only works partially towards the reduction of the harmful effects of the distractions caused by smartphones. While studying at home whereby this limiting environment is unavailable, students tend to be more distracted by their smartphones.

It is the duty of the parents to take care of their students’ best interests and bar them from accessing their phones at times when they are meant to do their homework or study generally while at home. David et al. (2015) also made the observation that individuals deficient in self-regulation may easily be addicted to the smartphone and end up performing dismally both at work and in their studies. The authors examined the correlation between multitasking with the mobile phone and Mobile Phone Interference in Life (MPIL). The results indicated that an increased frequency of texting and involvement in social media activities indicated a higher MPIL. The more the number of Facebook friends one had, the more the correlation to MPIL. The listening of music while studying, however, did not reflect a higher MPIL. The data above indicates that although the mobile phone has brought about a lot of benefits both to the student and working class, in some circumstances it has led to the decline in their performance due to the distractions that it has caused at the workplace and in the classroom.

Impacts of Distractions Caused by Smartphones on Human Interactions

Lastly, the mobile phone may have made the world a global village, making communications and remote interactions more efficient, but on the flipside, it is being blamed for the decline of physical socializations among people. Various researches have indicated that the strong attachment to the smartphone has greatly led to the decline of human to human interactions, with people in social settings choosing to interact with their phones as opposed to interacting with the people who are currently present in their physical environment. According to Lenhart and Duggan (2014), 20% of married couples in the United States indicated that the use of mobile phones had had a negative impact on their relationship. The negative effect on socialization caused by smartphones, however, only affects couples who live together. Couples in long distance relationships reported a positive impact due to the use of smartphones.

Young adults are mostly affected by a decline in human to human interactions as opposed to the older generation. About 42% of young adults have reported tension in their relationships due to distractions caused by the overuse of technology and smartphones (Lenhart & Duggan, 2014). These negative impacts aside, however, according to Lenhart and Duggan (2014) many couples(about 23%) reported that they were able to resolve issues more comfortably using digital media platforms made possible through the smartphone. According to Misra, cited by Dickerson (2014), visitors sitting in pairs at coffee shops checked their smartphones every three to five minutes. The author further notes that during a conversation, when one person pulled out a phone, the conversation was less fulfilling. Dickerson (2014) further points out the fact that tech-related distractions steal attention from real people and real relationships. The current use of information technology, with the smartphone acting as the central portal, has compelled people to develop horizontal relationships. In these interactions, a person creates multiple very shallow relationships spread out over a wide geographical area with people who are not present. The analysis carried out by various researchers on the effect of smartphone use on interpersonal relationships has indicated that the use of the smartphones has both positive and negative effects. The use of the smartphone, coupled with other multiple factors, can therefore negatively affect human to human interactions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the smartphone phenomenon has brought about a lot of improvements in human life. It has revolutionized modern life, bringing people of all backgrounds, geographical locations and believes together. Furthermore, the smartphone has impacted entertainment, communication, shopping, and even financial services. Regardless of these benefits, however, the smartphone has not come without a cost on the human livelihood. The main negative impact that this technology has brought about is distractions.

The effects of these distractions are far-reaching, starting from road accidents, declining performance among students and the working community, to negatively affecting interpersonal relationships affecting human to human interactions. Distractions by all road users, including drivers and pedestrians, are a significant risk that may lead to road accidents. Moreover, the distraction due to the use of smartphones has led to the underperformance by both students in schools and employees in the corporate world. Students and employees who cannot effectively control their behavior may overindulge in smartphone use and fail to meet their main objectives. Finally and rather ironically, the use of smartphones has negatively impacted interpersonal relations as most of the cell phone users choose to engage in shallow long distance relationships at the expense of actual personal relationships with people who are present in their lives in the same geographical setting.

References

Beland, L., & Murphy, R. (2016). Ill communication: Technology, distraction, and student performance. Labour Economics, 41, 61-76. doi:10.1016/j.labeco.2016.04.004.

David, P., Kim, J., Brickman, J. S., Ran, W., & Curtis, C. M. (2015). Mobile phone distraction while studying. New Media & Society, 17(10), 1661-1679. doi:10.1177/1461444814531692.

Dickerson K (2014). Are smartphones killing our conversation quality? Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/46817-smartphones-lower-conversation-quality.html.

Klingebiel, R., & Joseph, J. (2016). Entry timing and innovation strategy in feature phones. Strategic Management Journal, 37(6), 1002-1020. doi:10.1002/smj.2385.

Lenhart A. & Duggan M. (2014). Couples, the Internet, and Social Media. How American couples use digital technology to manage life, logistics, and emotional intimacy within their relationships. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/02/11/couples-the-internet-and-social-media/

Sebastian, M. T. (2010). Dielectric materials for wireless communication (1st ed.). London: Elsevier.

Sherin, K. M., Lowe, A. L., Harvey, B. J., Leiva, D. F., Malik, A., Matthews, S., & Suh, R. (2014). Preventing texting while driving. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 47(5), 681-688. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2014.07.004.

Strayer, D. L., Drews, F. A., & Crouch, D. J. (2006). A comparison of the cell phone driver and the drunk driver. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 48(2), 381-391. doi:10.1518/001872006777724471.

Törnros, J. E. B., & Bolling, A. K. (2005). Mobile phone use—effects of handheld and handsfree phones on driving performance. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 37(5), 902-909. doi:10.1016/j.aap.2005.04.007.

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