The Science of the Smartphone Backlash
Since the monumental disruption of the technology space brought about by smartphones, there simply seems to be no going back as everyone gets pumped up with every new release in the offing. But just recently, concerns have emerged as to why smartphones may not be all too deserving of the buzz are getting.
From undermining elections to their hypnotic tendencies, it all seems technology has made us subservient to our devices instead of helping us live better lives while still maintaining strong physical connection with people.
Not long ago, Jana Partners, a firm with a big chunk of Apple shares requested Apple to help parents in thwarting the attendant effects of smartphone gadgets on children. Firms are now in good position to hit the home run in increasing their value, while not compromising that of the society, as is now evident in approaches to climate change. The technology scene can also leverage this as many people now have a goodish perception of technology and hitherto theoretical risks, are seemingly becoming practical.
It therefore comes as no surprise that when Nokia released an old phone it first manufactured almost two decades ago, it got sold out in a WEEK! And with Facebook pledging about a million dollars in pursuant to studies of the relationship between our well-being and latest media technologies, we might just be getting set for a shocking discovery on the use of our favourite gadgets.
But in all of these, there’s probably no overwhelming evidence to suggest a significant impact of technologies on our brain according to associate professor Jason Chein, who has done an extensive study and published a paper on this topic.
Lindsay Squelglia of the Medical University of South Carolina who is also a psychiatry professor is also diving in to this study and has embarked on a decade-long study of how smartphone and social media use impact emotional functioning, academic achievement and brain development of children, in what promises to be the largest US study of this topic.
However, a research published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research discovered that keeping smartphones farther away helped students perform better during tests of fluid intelligence and working memory. It is also believed that discussions are better held when no smartphone is close by.
However, Patti Valkenburg and Helen Vossen, both Dutch researchers, have found empathy development in children who use social media heavily. And another research in China proposed that individuals who multitask with a wide range of media are more likely to make better and faster subconscious judgements when faced with challenges in their environment.
Ultimately, science has not given us hard and fast rules on the impact of smartphones and gadgets, so we may well be overreacting to the piece of amazingly robust devices in our pockets. Companies are however taken pre-emptive measures in the unlikely event of a major drawback.
For example, Facebook dramatically reduced its viral video sharing in the last quarter of 2017, a move that saw a big drop in the number of hours users interacted with the medium. This was to ensure people spent their time well and not overly ruminate their feeds for irrelevant media. Apple has also promised to help parental control of smartphones by bringing more informed features in its subsequent products. We can only hope the regulatory gadgets are not the nightmares of tomorrow as we head in for stronger and more robust smartphones in the future.