I Dependent: Are We Addicted To Our Smartphones?

1489 words - 6 pages

Interaction is an area of social research that continues to grow as new ways of communicating are continually developed. Face-to-face interaction as the oldest form of interaction obviously has been the topic of lots of literature, less literature exists discussing interaction mediated through devices such as mobile phones (Rettie, 2009). The growing adoption of such devices makes this an ever expanding area of research for many disciplines; a search for the term ‘smartphone’ in any academic database such as JStor returns results discussing their application to law, healthcare services, their role in education, as a means of marketing, as a new method for social and psychological research, the list goes on. So the key question is, with all its affordances has the smartphone become indispensable?
The smartphone trend is only expected to grow, the adoption rate is outpacing all other handheld digital devices in history (Chun, Lee and Kim, 2012), with estimations that there will be around 10billion smartphones worldwide by 2016 (more than the number of humans) (Financial Management, 2012). In 2010 90% of the world’s population had access to mobile networks (Bolin, 2012); in 2013 there were 82.7million mobile subscriptions in the UK (Ofcom, 2013). A study of teens (12-17 year olds) and their use of smartphones in the US showed that use had increased over a two year period; the median number of texts had gone from 50 texts per day in 2009 to 60 per day by 2011, with a more drastic increase for older teens, the increase for 14-17 year olds went from 60 per day to 100 per day in the same two year period (Lenhart, 2012). In the study 63% of teens said they exchanged texts with people in their lives every day, 39% would use their phone to call every day, 29% used social network messaging daily, 22% used an instant messenger daily, compared to 35% reporting face-to-face contact outside school (so texting and calling were the most popular ways of communicating with others) (Lenhart, 2012). The results of a survey of 1,150 Americans asking when/where they used their smartphones showed some shocking results; 48% said they would not hide use in a place of worship, 77% said they would openly use their smartphone in bed, 58% said they use their smartphone when spending ‘quality time’ with family, 62% admitted to use when with friends, 35% even admitted to pretending to use their smartphone to avoid talking to someone (McCafferty, 2013).
Bajarin (2013) claims ‘The smartphone is becoming the most indispensable device we own.’, but why is this? Perhaps because the smartphone has become increasingly intelligent and functional with fewer and fewer features that differentiate them from laptops, we can carry them at all times, and use them dozens of times a day for various purposes (Bolin, 2012; Bajarin, 2013). Rather than needing several single function gadgets almost everything is covered by this Swiss army knife of gadgets; it’s a phone that allows e-mailing, web...

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