It is now well established that mobile phones in general, and smartphones in particular, have become intrinsic parts of our daily lives. On balance, this trend has been beneficial—increased efficiency, connectivity and knowledge-sharing—but, as a recent Cisco survey finds, there are some disturbing pitfalls to this increasing addiction to smartphones as well. In its Connected World Technology Report 2012, Cisco found that 90% of its respondents in the age group 18-30 checked their phones for updates first thing in the morning, even before they performed their daily ablutions, ate breakfast and got ready for school, college or work as the case may be. That, in itself, isn’t the worrying part. What is, is that nearly half said that they used their phones in social settings like dinner with the family. Several studies have been conducted about the anti-social tendencies encouraged by mobile phones, and the Cisco findings add weight to this phenomenon—as connected as mobile phones might make us, they are equally weakening the individual bonds that hold society together.
This weakening of societal bonds is further exacerbated by the statistic that two out of three respondents spent equal or more time interacting with friends online than they did in person. This addiction has even resulted in physical symptoms—42% said they “would feel anxious, like part of me was missing” if they couldn’t check their phones constantly. The benefits of an increasingly ‘social’ world thanks to sites like Facebook and the ubiquity of mobile phones are well known. It is now time to address the damage to society such a trend is having.