The smartphone has become an increasingly ubiquitous part of modern life. Indeed, I read a study a while ago that suggested that a surprising number of people cannot resist using their phone while they make love to their partner. It wasn’t a huge amount, but around 15 percent I think, which is surely 15 percent too many!
A recent paper by a team of British and Icelandic researchers wanted to explore whether the bond we have to our smartphones is an emotional one.
Now, of course, I should add that I’m a massive fan of smartphones and the wonderful array of tools they provide us. Whether it’s the camera facility, access to the web, music playing, social networking or the multitude of apps available for the device, their functionality and utility is incredible.
The researchers accept that and wanted to delve a bit deeper into just how we use our phones, how we spend time with them, and maybe even how we form relationships with our gadget of choice. They explain that our phones are constantly prodding for our attention, with countless notifications vibrating or beeping away in our pocket from social networks, various apps and the other software we have on our phones that strive for our attention.
Indeed, in the modern always on workplace, it can be something of career suicide not to be available and ’online’ via your mobile device, regardless of the time or indeed the circumstances we find ourselves in at that particular moment in time.
Have we Crossed the Line?
Such is our love of these devices that there is an increasing number of conversations being had around whether we are becoming too reliant upon our mobile phones. We’re questioning whether our addiction to the devices is a good thing or not. Does this apparent addiction have an emotional element to it?
By asking a group of smartphone users aged between 16 and 64 years of age, the researchers hoped to gain greater insight into our relationship with our phones (and whether it’s a healthy one or not). The results suggest that people do indeed develop a strong emotional attachment to their mobile phone, or rather the incredible connectivity it provides and the vast range of technologies that the device places at our fingertips.
This strong emotional attachment is largely facilitated by the incredible ease with which most smart phones can be used by us, and the need to keep them close at hand at all times to allow us to pour our life out into the various social networks or apps that the phone connects us to. What’s more, when we customise and personalise our device it also provides us with a degree of ownership, which in turn brings with it some emotional baggage.
"Smart phones are creating a huge ripple in the pond of human behaviour and it is important that, as smart phones develop, we continue to study the way they affect behaviour, emotions and emotional attachments," the authors conclude.
How do you feel about your own smartphone? Do you feel as though you’ve developed an emotional attachment to it or is it simply a functional bit of plastic in your pocket?