Mankind suffers from various addictions. The most famous of all are illegal drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, and gambling. These vices have transformed people’s lives and not always for the better. Many even died from a drug overdose because of the need to feel the ultimate high elicited by certain drugs like heroin is simply irresistible and drug addicts will move heaven and earth just to be able to get their next fix.
Today, a new kind of addiction is affecting almost everyone in the planet – mobile phones. Almost everyone is glued to their phones. Whether at home, at school, at work, or at play, everyone got their grip on their cell phones especially when they can connect to WiFi or have data to splurge. Many people would even prefer to spend hours tinkering with their smart device rather than strike up a conversation with the person beside them or just simply move around the house for the sake of your health.
Have you ever noticed that no one looks up while crossing the street anymore? Most people are too busy responding to text messages or scrolling through social media to pay attention to their surroundings.
Truth be told, I’m guilty of this myself. But nevertheless, it defies all logic. Why do we risk our safety to check if someone liked our latest Facebook update? Can’t it wait for later, say, maybe when you’re not near oncoming traffic?
It’s a fact of modern-day life: we can’t live without our devices. In fact, a recent Gallup poll revealed that the average adults checks their smartphone hourly, if not every few minutes. Americans’ attachment to their phones is so strong that 63 percent of people actually sleep with their phone right next to them.
You’ll never run out of things to do on the web. You can get your office or school work done without ever needing to go out of the house anymore. You can likewise connect and stay connected with family, friends, and long-lost relatives through social media as well as make new friends online. Online entrepreneurs are making lots of money without having to open a single physical store where they can sell their products to a wider audience. Indeed, the Internet offers a lot of possibilities and we have the power to tap on all these options now through our handheld phone. It is one of the reasons why we can’t put our phones down 24/7 aside from saving us from boredom.
MILES O’BRIEN: One billion of us own a smartphone, and we know how addicting it can be.
One former Google employee says this is no accident. Indeed, it is by design. And he became troubled by the relentless efforts of app developers to keep us glued to the gadgets.
So, Tristan Harris founded an organization called Time Well Spent. He is asking the tech industry to bring what he calls ethical design to its products.
NewsHour special correspondent Cat Wise has more, part of our ongoing collaboration with The Atlantic.
TRISTAN HARRIS, Founder, Time Well Spent: I noticed when I was at Stanford, there was a class called the persuasive technology design class, and it was a whole lab at Stanford that teaches students how to apply persuasive psychology principles into technology to persuade people to use products in a certain way.
So, it’s not about giving you all this freedom. It’s about sucking you in to take your time.
Well, it is not entirely our fault why we can’t seem to take our eyes away from our phones. They have been designed to be addictive in the first place. Yet despite that, we can make a conscious effort to limit our exposure to technology so as not to compromise the more important things in life like making actual conversations and nurturing relationships with the people we love. It is hard, I know, but nothing is impossible if you set your mind and heart into it. A little discipline can go a long way and you’d be able to gradually loosen up your addiction to your mobile gadget and not constantly check on it every minute and second of the day.