SmartPhones: Our Extra Limb

I was recently sitting in a coffee shop working, when I caught myself automatically and repeatedly responding to flickering lights to my right-hand side. I had accidentally left my phone at home, but when the light from a mounted television reflected on the table next to me, I experienced what one could call a "trigger reaction" to check what my brain assumed was my phone lighting up with alerts.

These phantom perceptions are becoming extremely common when it comes to our attachment to technological devices. At least 5% of Smart Phone users report that they react to phantom ringing or vibrations in their pocket, even when their phone is not there. And that's not the only way our brains and bodies are changing. Studies show that there are an increasing number of incidences of "swiper's thumb", wherein the thumb people use to operate their Smartphones has actually grown by up to 15%! 

These physiological reactions are, of course, reflections of a changing culture, one to which technology is firmly grafted. The 02 Mobile Life Report study shows that 1 in 5 of us couldn't go a day without our phones and a similar 20% of us have reported falling asleep with a phone in our hands. 

So why are these statistics important? Both as individuals, as well as parents and caretakers of a tech-savvy generation of young people, it's important to be aware of the effect of technology so that we can be more discerning of our use of it. This is not to say how often we should use technology, but rather to increase awareness that using technology regularly is not without its consequences. 

As more and more people treat and consider their devices to be as essential as an extra limb, we have the opportunity to honestly assess the role that we want technology to play in our life and in the development of our children.

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