Should smartphones carry a warning?


Are you addicted to your mobile phone? I know I am. Although I do remember the days before this digital addiction arrived. You would contact your friends via a list of memorised phone numbers and await the latest news via television bulletins or even Ceefax!

But we’re living in the technology age and along with its benefits, there are also disadvantages. So much so that when it comes to digital addiction, research from Bournemouth University is calling for smartphones, tablets and other digital devices to carry a warning label, similar to what can be found in the tobacco industry.

It has been claimed that over-use of smart devices can have significant health implications, as Dr Raian Ali, senior lecturer in computing at the university explains: “Research has shown that excessive and obsessive usage and preoccupation about technology are associated with undesirable behaviours such as reduced creativity, depression and disconnection from reality.”

I’m extremely surprised that technology withdrawal symptoms of students are being compared to drug addicts going cold turkey. My concern, other than health warnings and a disconnection from reality, is the loss of time. Research from Nielsen has found that adults spend an average of more than 30 hours a month on their phones – that’s over a day a month. I know that I’m weak when it comes to quickly checking my phone throughout the day. How much time do you spend on your phone and tablet devices? Would a label encourage you to spend less time on your gadgets?

I agree that there should be education around the use of (or over use) of smart devices. We have all been in social situations where silence has fallen because of friends engrossed in social media via their smartphone. However, as a PR professional, these devices can enhance performance, speed and efficiency to service clients. We are well past the age of faxing press releases and mailing reports to clients. I can’t image life without the use of a smartphone, tablet or laptop to help perform daily tasks. Rather than encouraging health problems, they can actually alleviate stress. So while it’s inevitable that digital devices are becoming ingrained in our daily lives, perhaps we should be given the opportunity to learn how to find a balance and evolve alongside the latest technology trends.