The distracted smart race
|   Jan 23, 2015
The distracted smart race

"Mommy! Look at my picture!!!" your toddler is all excited to show you his latest...but you have to send out that email you are working on, like RIGHT NOW!

Your friend calls you up after long and you know you are in for a long chat; but all the while, you are thinking of that last message you were about to post on Whatsapp where you were involved in a serious discussion on your group.....

You are ready to go to bed; but there are just a few more notifications you need to see that you never got time to check during the day.....

You are in a flight and the flight attendant warns you sternly about switching off your phone (maybe for the fifth time!); but you need to send that one last message before you take off and are inaccessible for the next few hours.......

Sound familiar?

Most of us today find it extremely difficult to take our attention away from the little smart friend in our hand. First thing in the morning and the last thing at night that we do is check our phone for alerts and notifications that are so crucial for us.

A phone that was once a mere means of communication, has today become way more than that. The new age state-of-the-art phones are called smart phones...and aptly so. From delivering your messages and emails to getting you back in touch with your long lost friends, the smart phone performs many important and necessary functions. With the rise in the acceptance and use of social media, the uses and possibilities for smart phones have also increased manifold. Today, the young and the old alike are more or less addicted to this device; and feel 'lost' if (God forbid!) they forget to carry it on their person at any time.

Isn't it ironic that a device that connects you to people and makes it possible for you to socialize with so many of your friends online, offers so little real world social interaction actually. Young and school going children also find the smart phone very attractive and are possibly more addicted to it than the adults. Gone are the days when all the information was gained from teachers or newspapers or from the elders in the house. Today's kids prefer going to Siri with their questions than to their parents or grandparents.  

When the behavioral pattern of people using smart phones was studied, it was found that there was serious need for a limit on the usage of smart phones to stop it from becoming an addiction. Researchers found that most parents are hooked on their smart phones so much, researchers have come up with the term 'distracted parents' after watching families interact with each other in social settings or even at home. The parents subjected to the studies were found to be so engrossed in their phones that they almost ignored their children and failed to connect with them at the most basic level. Research has also shown that smart phones affect the productivity of people at workplaces. There have also been instances where the obsessive use of smart phones has interfered with the interaction between friends and colleagues; as people find it extremely difficult to detach themselves for a few moments to notice others standing next to them or trying to communicate with them. Now, it is possible that most people who were part of these studies were responding to some extremely urgent email or were firefighting at the office, but then, is so much obsession really necessary?

Not all smart phone use is bad, mind you. This little smart device is helpful in many situations and helps you in more ways than one.  In fact, it is true that smart phones help us all in most of our professions and are also extremely useful for the creative minded. Even for youngsters, the right exposure to this medium ensures brain development as well as the nurturing of essential skills at a young age. So the problem is not with the smart phone use, it is with the extent of exposure to the smart phone, the problem is with the addiction that it can cause and then become extremely difficult to shake off.

Come to think of it, this shouldn't be a problem for us really......the humans are a smart race, after all :) From the time our ancestors discovered fire to the time we discovered the smart phones, we have come a long way. The human race has always made it a point to grow and adapt. However, it is today becoming increasingly necessary for us to keep tabs on ourselves. Getting carried away, with anything, is not good. We don't need to distract ourselves so much that we lose track of what and where we are!

A little quality time spent with our loved ones and some really good time spent with ourselves can go a long way in helping us not get into this distracted, addiction mode. Let us rediscover the joy in music, books, nature. Let us take long drives and go for walks. Let us teach our children too in the process, to appreciate beauty and nature - lets get them to appreciate life. Let us show our loved ones how much we love them by spending time with them because we owe them that more than anything else.

Let us be a smart race, not a distracted one.

 (This post originally appeared on the blog Ramblings et al.

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