The most dangerous creature in the world is …. the Smartphone? Your smartphone addiction could be fatal.

defcon

Which is the deadliest creature on earth according to you? Sharks are considered one of the most deadly creatures on earth. But the surprising fact according to CNtraveller is that selfies are more dangerous. Yes, you read it right. More people have died while taking selfies (11) than those killed by sharks(8) in the previous year.

The number of mobile phone users globally are 4.8 billion according to a study released by GSM Association (GSMA) 

The average user checks his/her smartphone at least 46 times a day and in the United States, people collectively do this 8 billion times in 24 hours (App Annie). According to emarketer the average time spent by people in USA is 2 hours 54 mins screen on time. Several researchers have raised concerns about health problems due to the excessive use of smartphones.

An interesting thing that I’ve noticed is children throwing tantrums to play on smartphones. Well giving them your phone to play may save from a lot of headaches, but it could prove to be damaging to kids. According to researchers, a smartphone is harmful to a child’s ability to learn because it distracts their attention and thus affects their mental health. According to Jenny Radesky, MD, clinical instructor in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at Boston University: “These devices also may replace the hands-on activities important for the development of sensorimotor and visual-motor skills, which are important for the learning and application of math and science,” Nowadays I rarely see kids playing the park, all I see kids wanting to use their parents’ phones.

Another problem is the rise in Cyberbullying. The perfect example of this is the Blue whale challenge to which more than 130 deaths have been linked to in Russia and is rapidly spreading across India. In this challenge the so-called admins target emotionally unstable youngsters. Initially they give them challenges like taking selfie at 4 AM. The later tasks are much more devious, like cutting yourself or harming others. And the 50th and final task is to kill yourself. And if at any stage you refuse cooperate, the admins blackmail and bully you into doing tasks. Take the case of a grade 10 student from Madhya Pradesh who had completed 49 tasks and was being forced to commit suicide.

You save money whole month to buy those nice pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing for weeks. And bam, a pop up to buy items within a game pops up and you accidentally click on buy. Congrats you just got a 100 gems for 2000 rupees in a game rarely play to pass time. Luckily Amazon customers, a court ruling directed Amazon to start refunding $70 million that kids and adults accidentally spent in apps and games. However all parents aren’t so lucky.

There can be more direct threats too. The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving.1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk. According to 2012 National survey on distracted driving attitude and behaviours nearly half (48%) of drivers admit to answering their cell phones while driving.

Famous tech reviewer Marques Brownlee often says good smartphones are getting cheaper and cheap smartphones are getting are better. The decrease in prices of smartphones has resulted in an exponential growth in the adoption of smartphones. Which unlike computers are harder to monitor for parents. The decrease in prices of Internet data has also increased the uptake of smartphones. According to Forrester, a global research firm, mobile device usage is expected to reach more than 5.5 billion users by 2022 worldwide. India currently has a smartphone user base of over 300 million.

Cell phones and handheld mobile devices have diverse capabilities. The more diverse the functions of the cell phone the stronger are the attachment of the user to the device.

Ours is the first generation that’s using smartphones for a major part of our lives. We’ve already seen what kind of damage the influx of this technology is capable of doing. We cannot even begin to fathom the effects of long term usage of smartphones on our health. A life without smartphones seems unthinkable There could be some solutions:-

Internet is the soul of smartphones. Cut off the Internet once the user reaches the maximum data allotment. The ideal solution is to limit access to the Internet for teenagers. Parents can adjust settings and apply limitations when the data reached the maximum.

There are even some apps like “Break free” that monitor your smartphone usage and notify whenever your usage gets close to an unhealthy amount. With that I would like to close with a quote by Aldous Huxley: Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backward. Even Google has introduced digital well- being in most recent Android smartphones to help you monitor your smartphone usage.

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