Is The Smartphone Killing You?

Is The Smartphone Killing You?
The culture of using smartphones for all our needs has penetrated every segment of the society and all facets of life. It has become a norm all over the world.

Both the pros and cons of using this technology are numerous. Some negatives may carry severe consequences, like loss of life.

The many positives include rapid circulation, distribution and delivery of news stories which otherwise do not get attention of the mainstream media. With smartphones, individuals share stories to spread awareness among people and in many cases the concerned agencies, including law enforcement agencies, take notice of the social media information and act on it.

Another positive is people who possess talent but cannot make it to noteworthy forums get a chance to showcase it and get a reasonable audience. Smartphone apps allow easily access to banking, running awareness campaigns on unlimited number of issues, government businesses, etc. They have rendered “autographs” of celebrities redundant. One-click selfies do the trick now. One can store and share visuals with others via smartphones.

The negatives are so many. For one, the excessive and unabated use of cell phones in meetings. A few decades ago, it was considered against the office decorum to not pay attention to the proceedings of a meeting. Now it has become a trend and a norm.

But our cell phones have also become our ‘small offices’. Smartphones enable easy and quick communication. Still, its use must be controlled, and a formal way of using them in offices must be devised.

The constant use of cell phones in social gatherings is another negative. One does not want to miss this one piece of information or news, or text from someone… as if the earth would stop revolving or heavens will fall if the message is not seen immediately.
One does not want to miss this one piece of information or news, or text from someone… as if the earth would stop revolving or heavens will fall if the message is not seen immediately.

One can notice the impunity with which this practice is seen amongst uniformed personnel -- be it law enforcement personnel, emergency medical or search and rescue service providers, members of police force on protocol or security duty. Take the incident in Murree last winter, where pictures and videos of casualties did rounds on social media and mainstream media that were taken by the rescue personnel.

If these officials are focused on their devices, how do they carry out their core duties? It looks unprofessional, especially since we take pride in preparedness, readiness, and show of discipline of the uniformed officers in the country.

The act of taking selfies has killed hundreds of people. Some of the selfies may live on but folks in the selfies lose their lives.

The stats collected by a 2018 study of news reports reported 259 selfie deaths globally between October 2011 and November 2017, and Pakistan is one of the countries besides India, Russia and the United States, where such deaths were recorded. The average age of people who died was 23 years, with male deaths outnumbering female deaths. -- Source:

According to the World Health Organization, driver distraction while using a cell phone -- both handheld or hands-free -- contributes to a four times higher risk of being involved in an accident then a driver not using a cell phone. Even the use of a hands-free phone distracts the cognitive ability to maneuver.

Another study done in 2016 and published in the International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health concluded that, “most of study participants felt that over use of smartphones make their lives more sedentary, dry eyes and headache, and feel disturbances in their sleep. Also, they spent excess money on mobile recharges although they prefer to use the internet over their own creativity for any projects.”

With so much change happening around us, we need to modify some of our traditional ways to cope better with the transformation.

The need of the day is to develop etiquettes to use cell phones. Using smartphone is akin to driving on a highway, where traffic rules are followed for the safety of the driver as well as others.