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How long until we become Mr Potato Head?

Posted on 5/07/2016 by


Are we a generation of app dependents or app enablers? by Jerri Howlett

Scrolling through my news feed on the commute to work, I previously read the metro - checking if I had made it onto the rush hour crush, never happened, damn, so I turned my attention back to my smartphone. It is here I stumbled across an article showcasing the new feature for Fitbit which reminds you when to go to sleep. I am defiantly not part of the percentage of the population who needs to be told when to go to sleep (I long for that bad boy the moment I leave it) so for me this seems alien. Surely as adults we don’t need to be reminded to carry out such an essential simple task - eight hours beauty sleep a night right, why does this require an app?

It got me thinking of how ridiculously dependent we are with technology these days, and if it would eventually reach a point where we would become incapable of simple everyday tasks - we’ve all witnessed how auto correct has played a major role in the deterioration of spelling with sixty-five per cent failing to spell ‘necessary’ correctly, while 33 per cent find ‘definitely’ and ‘separate’ difficult in a poll taken from 2,000 adults, the struggle is real.

Howard Gardner and Katie Davis professors at Harvard University carried out research revealing what exactly makes us app dependent and app enabled and after reading their theory I am embarrassed to say that I, like most of my generation have fallen into the latter. The study showed that we become app dependent by following a chosen app rigorously, completing exactly what is indicated, and when the options have been exhausted, we move on to the next app. Social media platforms, dating and fitness apps are a prime example of this. Whereas in reference to being app enabled an app is used to open up new possibilities, engenders and the exploration of unexpected moves and options, which could include terminating the app and proceeding in a novel direction. 

Digital amnesia has taken over and is showing no sign of slowing down - the fact Nomophobia (the proposed name for the phobia of being without a phone - deep breath) has now been recognised as a form of anxiety disorder is seriously worrying. I think we need to all take a back step and think…with our brains… do I really need this app?

Below is a smartphone addiction test, it is thought if you score four or more on the test you are an app dependent, and it may be time for a serious intervention. Let us know what you scored, your thoughts on whether we should just chill out and ride the technology wave or what app (if any) you will be giving the boot!

1. Do you often absent-mindedly pass the time by using your phone even when there are better things to do? 

Yes   No

2. Do you lose track of time when on your phone?

Yes   No

3. Do you spending more time on your phone than talking to real people face-to-face?

Yes   No

4. Do you wish you could be less connected to your phone?

Yes   No

5. Do you regularly sleep with your smartphone ON next to your bed?

Yes   No

6. Do you use your phone at all hours of the day and night—even when it means interrupting other things?

Yes   No

7. Do you use your phone while driving or doing other activities that require your focused attention?

Yes   No

8. Are you reluctant to be without your smartphone, even for a short time?

Yes   No

9. When you leave the house do you ALWAYS have your smartphone with you and feel ill-at-ease when you accidentally leave it at home?

Yes   No

10. When you eat meals is your smartphone always part of the table place setting?

Yes   No

11. When your phone buzzes do you feel an intense urge to check for texts, tweets, emails, updates, etc.?

Yes   No

12. Do you find yourself mindlessly checking your phone many times a day even when you know there is likely nothing new or important to see?

Yes   No

The full theory of Howard and Katie “The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World,” will be released in October.