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The Advent of Access: How Smart Phones Have Changed the World

With the ongoing move of smart phones towards near-ubiquity, much of society has come to take these do-all devices for granted. In overcoming the novelty of smart phones, many of us have lost our one-time sense of awe at this technology, and have ceased marveling at the effect it has had on the world around us. However, it is undeniable that smart phones have exerted a huge and multi-faceted impact on society, and continue to do so to this day.

More significantly than GPS tracking your run or making waiting in line a little more bearable, smart phones have virtually changed our society's concept of access, making information available to smart phone users at almost any time and any place. For instance, smart phones can function as pocket search engines, allowing users to ask questions (and receive answers) and gain any information they may need or want, whenever they want. Other applications, like Google Maps, function similarly by offering information within a certain niche at a moment's notice, such as travel directions and updates on traffic.

Obviously, the access that smart phones afford their users makes the lives of many easier and more convenient. However, it may also have a more subtle, negative effect. Many smart phone users have come to depend on their devices; whether they need important contact information, an address, or driving directions, they pull out their phones to get it. This change may impede smart phone users' abilities to navigate some situations should they find themselves without a working smart phone, and, more generally, may degrade their resourcefulness.

In light of this fault of the smart phone craze, the question begs to be asked: in a society where the abundance of smart phone users have nearly constant access to information, is somewhat of a dependence of these people on their devices really such a big problem? Of course, there are situations in which the answer is yes; emergencies in which we are missing our phones and must rely on our own resourcefulness, or even situations in which we simply don't have 4G can always arise. However, preparing oneself as best as possible for such events can make managing them easier, even without smart phones, mitigating this drawback of smart phones. Excepting these scenarios, some degree of reliance on a device may not be all that harmful when most smart phone users have their device on them at just about all times.

Smart phones' providing near-constant access to their users may have another significant impact on those who use them. It is often said that knowledge is power, and the knowledge smart phones offer makes no exception to this adage. In particular, it seems that smart phones afford teenagers more freedom by equipping many teenage smart phone users with more frequent access to information that is not limited by their parents, as well as with the near-constant ability to communicate with others.

While some parents may find this idea uncomfortable, it may not be such a bad change. Ideally, the parent's role is one of support, not control, and therefore should remain unimpeded in most cases when their child gains more freedom. Though greater freedom brings greater risk and greater responsibility, the power of parents to advise and support their child can help them adapt safely to such freedom, aiding their child in an important part of growing up.

Additionally, the benefits of the sort of freedom that smart phones afford young users are significant. Access to information can instill in teenagers an extra degree of independence and responsibility, as the freedom to gain information almost anywhere can lessen the dependence of teenagers on authorities and increase their accountability for their own knowledge and actions. This change also creates the potential for a better-educated youth, by endowing younger smart phone users with the ability to educate themselves more easily, and rapidly, than ever before.

Though access may be abused, overall, it can be greatly advantageous. While the impact of smart phones includes many positive and negative changes, the increased access they offer and its effect on society and daily life are welcome changes.

About the Author -
Sharon Housley is the VP of Marketing for NotePage, Inc. a software company for communication software solutions. http://www.notepage.net

 

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