I can’t say for sure however I suspect that with the development of the ‘smart’ phone the intent was to provide us as users with the ability to have access to the world of information in a fast and efficient manner. I also suspect that
it was to provide easier and faster avenues to interface with others in our respective worlds … both the business and personal parts of them. I’m pretty confident that some form of addiction was any part of the game plan past, present or future. However what we are seeing and even personally experiencing is the unintended consequence of just that. Our inability to function without easy and ongoing access to every beep, buzz or musical notice that something is going on around us that we must attend to NOW!
This is not a new awareness or concern that has just come to the forefront of our consciousness. However, it has done nothing but escalate and that is opening the door to more and greater problems. This week I read an attention getting article in the on-line CNN website that is entitled:
/smartphone-addiction-camp-intl-hnk-scli/index.html”>The teenagers so addicted to cellphones they’re going to detox centers”
. I found this a fascinating and at the same time concerning read and suggest that you might want to read it as well.
Certainly it’s a concern for your children through their teen years however the real and growing concern is that it is this age group that has begun infiltrating the business world and with them comes the addiction that they have developed along the way.
Think about it. Next time you’re in the office and working at your desk notice others around you. Simon Sinek has produced a video that clearly identifies how the growing addiction impacts our professional and personal lives. Here are some the key points he makes:
- The proximity of the phones to us at all times
Today it’s common to see most everyone with their phone located relatively close to them. The older co-worker may have theirs on the desk however it will most often be to the side of their computer screen. The younger person, sitting at the similar desk with a similar computer often has their phone placed just below thekeyboard. If you observe this person their eyes are constantly shifting between the computer screen and their phone screen when they get a notice that something new has arrived. And beyond just noticing, often times they jump to the phone to respond. Finally it’s back to focus on the computer screen … that is until the next interruption to which they feel compelled to respond now.
- Diminishing the importance of another person with our phone in hand
Envision yourself approaching a co-worker with a question or a desire to discuss something you deem as important. They stop to listen with the phone in-hand and within eye shot with the message being I want to hear and help you however you’re of secondary importance. At least, we get this sense anything that might come to the phone of the person with whom we want to speak will become priority #1. Clearly it diminishes the value placed on interactions and that impacts the work and what we strive to achieve.
- We are engaged in a business related meal with our phone beside us on the table
As important as the meeting may be in terms of what we want to discuss and decide upon, when we having the phone beside us simply gives the clear message that what we might be discussing is important … however … not as important as the text or email I may receive. So again … you are important however not the most important thing going on.
- We are in a discussion and our ever-present phone indicates an incoming call
Of course we see and often hear it and, after looking to see the caller ID, we magnanimously announce that we are not taking the call. The person or people with whom we’re meeting might well feel very lucky however there is no way they feel as your most important focus. Is this our intention? Most likely not.
- We’re waiting for a meeting to begin and while doing so use our phone rather than using the time to have actual conversation with others also waiting. Do we really have nothing to say to others with whom we work?Have we forgotten how to verbally communicate with others or do we see this as unimportant and a waste of time? It’s during such moments of down time that relationships are developed and built and this is still considered a foundation of success.
In my coaching related meetings with various business clients I encounter some of these things often. When I lose the focus of the other person because they notice the blip emanating from their phone and immediately look to see who/what it is, I often ask if that’s something to which they need to respond immediately. Most of the time it does not requires immediate attention and yet it is a distraction to whatever we have been and need to discuss. In some cases I have actually asked another to turn off their phone while we are meeting simply because they are missing out on the full value of what they have chosen to do … in this case coach.
I find little if any argument for the fact that our smart phones have actually impacted our ability to think using our brains. They have impacted our memories because we don’t have to remember a phone number or how to drive from point A to B. They have shortened our attention span just by their active presence in our daily lives. They have enhanced our ability to feel connected and yet we also come to realize we are actually less connected in a meaningful way.
Please don’t get me wrong. Our phones are phenomenal in terms of what they can and do provide to us as the user. Expanded resources … speed … vast amounts of information easily accessible … conveniences as never before. Yet at the same time, they have introduced a form of addiction to so many that is unsettling while it impacts the very relationships on which so much of our individual and collective success depends. Something to think about? I know for me it is.