Teens sitting around a table texting each other instead of talking…
People at events sharing moments on social media instead of enjoying the event…
Does any of this sound familiar? Antisocial behaviour associated with “social” media has started worrying experts. It’s wearing down the basic fabric of our lives at both the personal and social levels.
Ex-employees are revealing the sinister tactics web giants use to coerce us into spending more time on their platforms. Likewise, parents and educators are denouncing bad grades, increased social isolation, decreased physical activity, and the associated mental, emotional, physical and social health issues that can arise from the abuse of smartphones.
In short, people have stopped learning how to socialize. That’s a problem!
How do we cure smartphone addiction?
No one can deny that smartphones are eminently useful. Yet we’re also becoming increasingly aware that smartphone addiction is real and potentially dangerous.
The everyday tasks smartphones allow us to accomplish don’t justify elimination… But what if we could limit their use? We limited the use of tobacco in many public spaces because it poses a health risk. Why couldn’t we do the same with smartphones?
For entrepreneur Graham Dugoni, the solution is to create phone-free zones. He founded a company called Yondr, which manufactures, leases and sells small pouches that lock your phone away. You keep possession of your phone at all times, but you have to go to the nearest unlocking booth to get it out of its pouch and use it.
Yondr has been used by musicians, stand-up comics and schools to create the first “phone-free spaces” since the explosion of the smartphone market. The first big names to use Yondr pouches at their events include Dave Chappelle, Shawn Mendes, The Lumineers and more. “It’s a better show, man,” Chappelle said when discussing Yondr. “People are really there. You want a break from your phone. It feels good.”
Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that these first “phone-free spaces” foster social interaction between strangers, and allow people to simply enjoy the show. No more screens to distract from the experience.
The Case for Schools
In schools, both teachers and students have noticed a HUGE shift in behaviour. Kids are working harder and grades are up… But perhaps most importantly, schoolyards and hallways have gotten a LOT noisier. Kids are back to playing and socializing, instead of sitting quietly and staring at their phones.
One educator based in Kitchener, Ontario, said the pouches solve many key issues faced by educators:
Students get more done, actually seem happier, and comment that class seems to go by quickly. Yondr is an effective solution to one of the most significant barriers to learning we face today: the lure of social media.
So what are we waiting for?
Would you agree to have your phone rendered inaccessible for short periods of time? Would your kids be okay with not using social media during school hours?
What about other events, such as wedding and parties? Is it okay to take someone’s photo unexpectedly and post it to social media? Or is that considered an invasion of privacy?
Whatever your opinion on these fundamental current issues, it’s hard to deny the addictive side of smartphones. The effects our devices are having on our individual and social health are only starting to be understood… But isn’t it better to err on the side of caution? The “smartphone era” is just the blink of an eye compared to human history. We managed just fine without smartphones, so why shouldn’t we be able to banish them from certain spaces?