The concern is real and widespread. You only need to take a walk around a shopping centre and try and count the amount of people not staring slack-jawed at their phones.
Screen addiction is a thing, and its no surprise when you see how dependant we have become on our phones. Obsessive smartphone behaviour is also more prevalent in the youth; but this is the case whenever a new technology comes out.
So, is this widespread concern really fair? Not exactly.
Booking Time Out from Conversation
Believe it or not, there was once a time when books instilled the same fear of social ineptitude that mobile applications now do.
Before the 15th century, people were more into verbally sharing stories. Art gave off a certain amount of entertainment but was often used for didactics (teaching using imagery). Then the printing press and the ability to read changed everything.
Suddenly books were everywhere in place of verbal conversation, leading parents all over the world tutting and shaking their heads at unresponsive children. These children were, of course, simply building a new skill, one that would prove invaluable for the rest of their lives.
Television: The Reading Killer
Television exploded on to the scene and demanded people’s undivided attention in the 18-hundreds. Those rebellious books that parents were once concerned about made may for a new nation destroying addiction- luckily it was one that experts guessed wouldn’t be around for very long; television. Boy were they wrong!
Also, despite people spending hundreds of mindless hours in front of the flashing box, society didn’t fall apart, global IQ rates stayed the same, and all of those concerned parents even took to the television themselves; despite their own incessant warnings of square eyes.
Surfing the Unsafe Waters of the Internet
The internet truly became widely available in the 90’s; another invention that experts reckoned would be short-lived and terrible for society.
Smut, violence and mindless activity became available in equal measure in nearly every home and once again, a natural distrust for a new technology reared its paranoid head as predictions of a unskilled and jaded youth filled the very television screens that once got the same treatment.
In reality, the web opened up thousands of opportunities for the youth that had taken the time to familiarise themselves with it, often creating millionaires overnight.
Then Mobile Apps Came to Candy Crush their Prospects
Now the attention falls on mobile applications and mobile phones in particular. Screen addiction is a buzzword tossed around a lot and its seen as a major problem for the future moral fibre of society, as was the internet, television, books and so-forth.
It is viewed as a generational problem by the baby-boomers who were once stuck to television sets and millennials still waiting for their next fix of online content.
“Nobody interacts without smartphones anymore!” is their rallying cry while concerned parents watch their children tap and swipe away on mobile games and apps.
What these people don’t see is what their parents didn’t see, and what their parent’s parents didn’t see. The youth are tapping and swiping while developing a very valuable skillset, since mobile apps, far from being a short-lived novelty, are fast becoming an essential part of nearly every facet of life.
Mobile apps, like the internet, television and books, are here to stay and are largely beneficial. They should be embraced by the generations that don’t understand their appeal.
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