Travel anywhere and you’ll see at least a few people in the now-traditional pose – head down, hands together, tapping away… It’s a look that has become synonymous with the modern-day smartphone.
In fact, I associate smartphones with these browsing and texting mannerisms more than any other of their functions, which raises the question – is anyone regularly using their device to actually ‘phone’ anyone?
According to research by Ipsos Mori, only three quarters of smartphone owners say they make at least one call a week. This compares with almost all (96%) of them just three years ago.
Texting and scrolling
I’ve just had a quick scroll through my call history and found regular gaps of two to three days, sometimes more. Yet in that time I’ve used my phone frequently throughout the day – easily running the battery down – doing things other than calling.
What does that tell me? That I need to get out more, probably. But it does also suggest that we’re changing how we choose to interact with one another. After all, it’s not like anyone is forcing us to use texting apps like WhatsApp instead of speaking to each other – it’s entirely our own preference to have shifted things in that direction.
But it’s not just that we’re texting rather than talking – it’s that we never seem to be looking away from our phones. There’s always something popping up on-screen to distract you; whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or that game you’re addicted to. For many, persistently reaching for their phone has become something of a reflex reaction. Apparently British adults collectively check their phones 1.1bn times every 24 hours. Who knows how close to reality that statistic actually is, but we’re no doubt glancing at our phones more than ever before.
Are we overindulging? It seems it’s in our nature to search for distractions – there have been similar concerns in the past with televisions and video game consoles. I used to spend a lot of time browsing the website on a desktop PC, then later a laptop and now a smartphone – so isn’t this just a natural technological progression towards more convenient devices?
Giving your life back
Swiss consumer electronics company Punkt certainly feels something needs to be done – it launched a new phone in September that aims to ‘give you your life back’. It makes calls, it sends texts… and that’s about it. It removes temptation by simply eliminating it entirely. Why the phone costs as much as £229 is anyone’s guess, but the idea of taking a backwards step technologically to free yourself from the consuming nature of the internet is an intriguing one.
Would you be able to go back to a phone that acts purely as a phone after all this time? A good old Nokia 3310, for example – that definitely got the traditional job done, and it was pretty damn indestructible to boot!
I suspect it may be too late to kick the habit for many – perhaps smartphones have already taken over. Or maybe you’re not like me at all and you only use your mobile phone to make calls. If so, I want to hear from you (just don’t call me about it as I probably won’t answer).