Are We Too Connected?

A recent study conducted by Lookout Mobile Security contends that many of us might just be spending a bit too much time tethered to our smartphones.  According to the study, a whopping 60% of respondents check their phones at least once an hour, and 54% check them right after they wake up and right before they go to sleep.  A full 40% check them while on the toilet.  Nearly three-quarters of respondents confess they feel “panicked” when they can’t locate their phones.

It turns out that cell phone etiquette is also changing with the times.  People are a lot less skittish about whipping out their phones at dinner, in church, or while driving, in spite of the fact that this last one can land you in prison.

Of course, it’s not just the obvious questions of politeness and safety that are at stake.  The human brain is a fascinating, miraculously adaptive thing, and it’s quite happy to delegate its functions when it deems fit.  Your brain now knows quite well that the store of all human information is available with the touch of a few buttons on that cell phone in your pocket, and thus doesn’t feel compelled to store that information in itself.  In other words, our smartphones might be making us dumber, since our brains seem to have decided all by themselves that recall and downloading are redundant processes.  Our memories are slowly but surely being uploaded to the cloud.

Measures are being taken in some circles.  Apple will be offering a Do Not Disturb feature in iOS6 that will silence push notifications and restrict incoming phone calls to the user’s whitelist or to those who call more than once (which is likely in an emergency).  Others concerned by the omnipresence of smart phones in their lives have taken to organizing a Digital Sabbath where friends and family gather and are strictly forbidden from accessing digital media of any kind for the duration.  We here at AppMuse aren’t quite going that far, but we do recognize that having too much of a good thing is almost never a good thing.

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