My Smartphone Is Making Me Stupid
Like a lot of professionals these days, I am interacting almost nonstop with some sort of mobile device. At work, I swivel constantly between my laptop, my tablet, and my smartphone. I can’t help but check my phone while in line at the grocery store (though I do put it away when I reach the cashier—that’s just common courtesy). I take a lap around the Internet while I watch TV. I thumb through my favorite websites while riding in the car (but never while driving). I feel I have to let people know when I am going to be away from my phone for a few minutes, and I get annoyed when I can’t reach my family on their phones the very first time I try.
I decided to write about this topic because it has taken me two days to write a four-hundred-word story. I want to call it writer’s block, but in reality, it’s lack of a creative spark and a distracted mind that are blocking me.
So, instead of mulling it over in my head, I turned to the Internet to see if others are struggling as I am, and I found some support for my hunch that constant access to too much information can be bad for productivity and creativity. I also found a couple of resources that just might help me kick my must-have-information habit and get some of these brain cells working on other projects.
I’m really excited to participate in New Tech City’s project, Bored and Brilliant: The Lost Art of Spacing Out, which begins February 2. Bored and Brilliant comprises a week of challenges to get your mind off your phone and thinking creative thoughts. The folks at New Tech City offer this horrifying statistic: “The average mobile consumer checks their device 150 times a day, and 67 percent of the time, that's not because it rang or vibrated.” If that’s not reason enough to kick the habit, here is a compilation of reasons people are joining the Bored and Brilliant project. I can definitely relate.
While I’m waiting for the Bored and Brilliant challenges to begin, I have a list of tips to help me get started on breaking my mobile device addiction. These tips were compiled by a mental health expert and include the following suggestions:
- Turn off alerts
- Make device inaccessible
- Be accountable to family and friends
- Use positive and negative reinforcement
I don’t really think I will be able to walk away completely from my smartphone, nor do I really want to. It’s a pretty useful tool. My goal is to squash the urge to be occupied every single second so I can spend more time just hanging out in my head.
What are your thoughts on the infiltration of smartphones into our lives? Do you think creativity and focus have suffered, or does the constant mental stimulation improve innovation?