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
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
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.