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September 01, 2023
By CA. R. Shruthi
7 Min Read
Disconnected in a Connected World

A new drug has recently been making its way around town, turning its consumers into addicts. After enslaving the adult population, it has now turned its attention towards the younger generation. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s nothing but smartphone addiction.

It all began with the empty swings in the park. The playground is now less crowded than it used to be. COVID-19 had a definite impact, but our children have not ventured outside their homes even after COVID-19. Why should they when they have their friend Mr. Ring-Ring at home?

To keep the kids entertained, we’ve designed their lives so that they can’t eat without watching a YouTube video or sleep without playing a mobile game. Worse, children now have access to the internet and the dark corners of social media, where they are exposed to inappropriate content for their age. Are we denying our children the opportunity to experience childhood?

With so much dependence on smartphones, we are raising an army of human robots devoid of human touch, healthy lifestyles, emotions, and feelings. They turn out to be overly smart, dishonest, selfish, and competitive, with little or no regard for the well-being of others. But are they the ones to blame?

Children follow in the footsteps of their elders. But what can be done when the older generation themselves, cannot live without their smart toys?

This reminds me of a recent conversation I came to know about –
M – Rahul!!! Finished dinner?
R – Not yet Mom.
M – Look at the time. What are you up to now?
R – I’m with the boys’ mom. I’ll eat soon.
M – Don’t lie to me. Finish dinner now and then do whatever you want to.
R – The boys are waiting for me, Mom.
M – You are finishing dinner now, or do you want me to come up to your room now and take away your phone?
R – No ma. Give me 5 mins. We’re just wrapping up this group call. I’ll TTYL.
M – OK (Thumbs up)

You’ve probably guessed by now. This is not a typical conversation. The mother and her son are texting about dinner while sitting in the same house; the son is on the phone with his friends. This is where the world is heading. With a smartphone in hand, the entire family has retreated into separate rooms to stay connected with the unreal world, forgetting about the people who live with them in the same house.

We have already lost a lot due to our smartphones without even realizing it –

1. Falling attention span –

Did you know that people’s attention spans are getting shorter? According to Dr. Gloria Mark’s research, average screen attention was 2.5 minutes in 2004, 75 seconds in 2012, and 47 seconds in the last five years.

According to research, young adults aged 18 to 25 check their phones 56 times per day, or every 15 minutes.  This is largely due to the constant flow of information we face daily. Our phones are flooded with notifications, some of which are useful but many of which are not, so it is critical to be mindful of what distracts our productivity.

2. Negative impact on relationships –

With the increased usage of WhatsApp and SMS, we have reduced the number of face-to-face interactions with the people around us. We have lost the ability to read faces and to understand feelings through quivering voices. Nowadays, true intentions and feelings are hidden behind various emoticons that don’t even come close to expressing what one is feeling. We’ve started living in a world that is far from reality.

3. Increasing mental health issues –

Excessive social media use has been linked to depression caused by comparison and feelings of inadequacy. There has also been undue pressure to conform to a particular way of life or standard. This is because someone’s reality is frequently compared to another’s polished bright lifestyle. However, what one fails to understand is the reality behind the scenes of the bright smiles.

So, how do we step out of this addiction?

1. Acceptance and self-awareness –

The first step towards self-improvement is admitting that you need to change. The next thing to do is to figure out the level of addiction. Ironically, several apps on the internet can tell you how much time you spend on your phone. If you spend more than 4-5 hours per day on your phone, it’s time to reconsider your lifestyle.

By beginning to monitor your usage and determining when and where you spend your time, you can become more aware of how you spend it and decide what is important enough to allow as a distraction. You could also try a digital detox weekend to see how you’d do without your phone.

2. Reduce usage of infinity pool apps –

Dopamine is known as the “feel-good hormone,” and it is the hormone that motivates you to do numerous activities. Authors of the book “Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day” discuss how certain apps are like infinity pools and can steal the dopamine meant for doing difficult tasks. Infinity pools are apps that entice you with constant engagement, making it difficult to leave. An example is the never-ending reels on Instagram and YouTube. They provide you with never-ending content with a single swipe of your hand, and you don’t realize that with each swipe, you are swiping away hours and extinguishing your dopamine secretion.

3. Replace with healthier habits –

The best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one, and the best way to stop spending time on the phone is by using it for something else. The next time you feel your phone is drawing you in, pick up a book instead or start a new hobby that does not involve the internet. Do you require a short break?  Try going for a short walk without your phone. There will be a sense of loss at first, but this is how you will eventually gain freedom.

While our smartphones allow us to stay connected to the world 24 hours a day, they also take away our real world without our noticing. It is our responsibility as adults and elders to steer clear of this addiction and set good examples for the younger generation.

There is a Tamil proverb that translates to, “Even too much nectar is poison.”

It’s high time we break free from these 5.5-inch cages and enjoy the sweetness of the nectar in limited quantities.


About the AuthorCA. R. Shruthi

Shruthi Rajaram is a Chartered Accountant and Certified Fraud Examiner by profession, and a writer by passion. She currently holds a prominent role as an Internal Auditor in the Banking and Financial Services space. In her free time, you can find her face inside the pages of a heavy book. She is an active writer and writes across various social media platforms. She is interested in topics of Human Psychology, Mindset, Biases, Habits, and Personal Development. She believes that there are no limits in life, and if there are, they are there only to be broken. Her long-term ambition is to write a best-selling book and be a member of the writing staff for a thriller television series.

She can be reached on: @ www.linkedin.com/in/shruthi-rajaram or @ shroothi.r@gmail.com

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