eXtensions - Monday 4 June 2018
Cassandra - Smartphone Zombies: Apple's Fault too
By Graham K. Rogers
A report in Patently Apple discusses the reduced use of Facebook by young people. This article also mentioned the wider use of smart devices, with the addiction levels doubling in the last 3 years: 45% of teens say they are online almost constantly. Some of the switch from Facebook has been taken up by YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat.
Trying to navigate the platforms, stairs and exits of stations here, as well as walking along streets and through the shopping malls (airconditioned mercifully), my progress is frequently stopped by others, totally absorbed by their devices: oblivious to anything or anyone. In an apparent trance. And let's not blame teens for this as many of these mall zombies are much older.
You can't help notice the apps being used: messaging, including Twitter, and Facebook feature, of course. As well as those coming towards me, there is more of a risk on the stations from those going in the same direction, especially when they stop, perhaps on a platform or the stairs, with several people behind all bunching up. If I need to answer a message or make a note, I find somewhere to stop out of the way of others.
The Patently Apple reported on a shareholders' letter to Apple demanding that Cupertino "do something", but surely it is not really Tim Cook's problem, as other smartphone makers apparently sell more phones, with Android the leading OS for several years (Statista). Apple makes more profits, of course, but that does not necessarily translate into smartphone zombie numbers (perhaps the opposite), or responsibility.
Apple might wave its magic wand for social responsibility and be blamed when restrictions are introduced - remember the Walled Garden? Legislation might be considered, although that also has negative connotations in societies which are already over-controlled, or in those countries in which laws are often enforced selectively.
Education? Some countries are still unable to stop drivers drinking or using phones, or make them use seatbelts. There is also the logic of cancer risk from smoking. It may just take some harsh reminders as others walk into the oblivious phone users, or the users themselves fall, although as a YouTube video shows, this is not having much effect just yet.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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