Look around you. Whether you’re in walking down the street, on the subway, at the airport, or in the local coffee shop, there’s an obvious common theme – the vast majority of people are on their smart device. According to PewResearch, 55% of American adults own a smartphone and another 42% have a tablet computer. Statistics from eMarketer predict that, in 2014, Americans will spend more time on digital devices than watching TV – amazing! Whether on a smartphone or tablet, Americans today are nearly always ‘on’ – engaged and connected 24/7/365.
Using devices to their full potential, it’s no surprise that we spend an average of five hours per day on smartphones and tablets (non-voice activity). While some of these statistics initially surprised me, when I really examined my own daily activity, it’s no surprise that I don’t spend more than five hours a day on my iPhone alone. After all, it’s my alarm clock in the morning, my first connection to email and social media each day, my shopping browsing and news reading tool, my stock tracker, my GPS, my account management tool for banking, and now it’s even becoming my wallet with mobile applications like LevelUp and Isis. Wow, I rely on my phone for a lot.
As we become more and more reliant, or addicted, to smartphones and tablets, I question whether or not we’re compromising too much. Is this level of connectivity a good thing – does it make our lives easier – or, is it adding a whole new level of stress to our daily lives? Personally, I think it’s a combination of both. Smartphones and tablets definitely make our lives easier, but they also create a dynamic and expectation that you’re always going to be on the other end. I mean, after all, who leaves their smartphone behind? In the end, it’s about balance and moderation. For me, it’s important to have a smartphone, but I also relish my time at the gym or at the beach, when I’ve intentionally left my smartphone behind. In the end, we are going to spend more and more time connected, so it’s critically important to carve out time to be disconnected as well.