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Addicted to using your smartphone?

I have to admit I have had the odd complaint at the family dinner table after finding myself checking for that all important email as my phone buzzed (at least it was on silent), and the latest survey from Ofcom suggests I am not alone.

I even fit into the seventy per cent of smartphone users who admit to taking work calls while on holiday or annual leave. In fact I’m probably in the 24 per cent who admit to doing so regularly – compared with just 16 per cent of ordinary mobile phone users. Yet, I don’t think I am addicted – despite what other members of my family and friendship group think, I just think technology has changed the way the world works. I admit the dining table is probably moving into the realm of bad manners, but emails don’t always arrive at convenient times and sometimes their timing and dealing with them can be very time-specific in a business sense. Particularly in the media world that I earn my corn from.

I am an information junkie, always have been. In years gone by, I would be the one getting ribbed for reading a literary classic or non-fiction book on holiday – even an encyclopedia once. I like to be in the know, and if I am not, I like to know that information is never too far away. That’s probably why I also like gadgets, things that make some of life’s adventures just that little bit easier. So, I carry two smartphones. Two different operating systems, two different numbers. It used to be one for work, one for personal calls, but over time people learn both numbers and it has all sort of merged into one. It does mean I can choose the pick of the apps though for each phone.

On that last point, I did hold off playing games on my phone for a long while. Trying to keep it purely functional, I remembered the wasted days (and nights) from my time as a student when I fell victim to absorption into games like SimCity and Age of Empires. Yet, I did give in. I wanted to find out what this Angry Birds thing was (very addictive, I can now confirm). At first it was a few games to keep the kids quiet, now I have a whole screen (and some) of word games, platform games and just downright silliness. Not that I have much time to play them – I am usually too busy dealing with my emails!

So, I don’t think I am addicted, but then what addicts do? What I do know is that I have yet to find a waterproof smartphone, and am not convinced about putting my normal smartphone in a rubberised bag imported from the far east for under five pounds. That means that on the odd occasion that I am without my smartphone in my hand I am probably swimming or in the bath – although I did recently see a smart-panel that could be installed in bathrooms that ran Android apps….

Coming back to the report from Ofcom, the headlines elsewhere have all been about the break-up of traditional social activity, infringed by smartphones. Yet, the most interesting findings were actually the ones that truly declare us as a digital nation. 76 per cent of households are now connected to the internet compared to just 25 per cent back in 2000. 91 per cent of people now own a mobile phone, compared to just 36 per cent back in 2000.  Plus sixty per cent of households now own an HD-Ready TVand 46 per cent have a digital video recorder (DVR).

A decade ago the mobile phone  was seen as the addiction set to wreck the way we lived our lives. Now we see it as an essential that helps us live our lives more conveniently as ever before. Just as the smartphone is coming under attack by some of the media, so the traditional mobile phone faced the same and overcame it.

Are you addicted to your smartphone?


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