The modern smartphone has been with us for around fifteen years. Ever since Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in 2007, our lives have never been quite the same. At their best, they’re an enormously useful source of information, entertainment, and communication power. At their worst, they’re an interminable drain on our attention and focus.
It’s now pretty much impossible to turn back the clock, and return to the way things were. But even if such a thing were possible, would it actually be desirable? Let’s take a look.
A nation of mobile phone users
By 2025, around sixty-five million of us in the UK are projected to own and use a smartphone device. This is a rise of roughly ten million new handsets since 2018. We can explain this shift via the fact that many older people today haven’t learned to use a smartphone, but the younger generation coming up are intimately familiar with them.
How do we use our phones?
Part of the joy of the smartphone is that it can be used for a wide range of applications. You can place phone calls and send text messages, too. Today, there’s the option for encrypted messages via services like Signal and WhatsApp. There are also image-sharing applications, and social media – which is responsible for wasting much of the time we spend online.
As far as entertainment goes, there exists a rich diversity of options for those who’d like to waste a few minutes. From online bingo games to detailed military simulations, there’s something for just about everyone. Or, if you prefer your entertainment non-interactive, there are also plenty of video streaming services like Twitch and YouTube.
Would we manage without one?
Being able to live without a smartphone might seem impossible to many of us. There are a number of functions that you might take for granted on your phone, which you’d have to remember how to perform via traditional means. Unfurling a paper map when you’re lost, for example, might be difficult.
You’ll also need to keep important numbers, like taxi services and takeaways, stored physically. Then there’s the fact that you won’t have the luxury of paying for services using your phone.
It might seem like there are plenty of conveniences that you’d be giving up by getting rid of your phone. But on the other hand, you’ll be freeing up an enormous amount of free time, and possibly breaking a cycle of addiction.
If you’d like to retain the benefits of a smartphone, while curbing some of the disadvantages, you might look at regulating and monitoring your smartphone use. Delete the apps you don’t really need, and make use of the digital wellbeing settings.