Dumbing Down: Forsaking the Smartphone for a 'Dumb Phone'

Part One: Abstract

In the last couple of years, my opinions on mobile technology began making a dramatic shift. Like the majority of people here in the US, I have been a consumer of smart phones, starting on the release day of the first iPhone from Apple. And like nearly everyone else, I was appreciative and comforted with the convenience it bought: music, video, web browsing, apps, social media, games, GPS, camera, and so on.

However, I started noticing a bothersome trend several years ago that caused me some irritation. This irritation was Apple and Samsung's yearly release of new phones, which began a back-and-forth of “My phone can do this” and “My phone has had this for [number of months/years]“. Soon it became a status symbol to get the latest and greatest phone, followed by carrier plans allowing the purchase of a new smartphone over time, making it very easy to upgrade (and keep you paying for a phone you will not stay in). This year also brought the first $1000 smart phone to market. Does anyone besides me see a problem with carrying a $1000 computer in their pocket? We all know at least one person who has dropped their phone in the toilet or jumped in a pool with their phone (my mother has done this at least twice if not three times).

Now we see junior high school kids (or younger) carrying smart phones, sometimes even the latest offerings from Apple or Android. Parents and grandparents hand over their smart phones and tablets to babies and toddlers to 'occupy' them (my wife and I are not innocent in this). I go to restaurants and see whole families completely engulfed into their respective screens. While I am driving, I see countless people of all ages walking down a street while looking at a screen. It's even scarier when I see other drivers on the phone watching a smartphone and driving at the same time.

I don't like where society and smartphones are right now. And I am not the only ones who see this. Technology elites have limited the use of technology with their children, as they seem to know overexposure is not a healthy use of their kids time. Doing a quick search of kids and smartphone studies highlights this growing issue. Having used a smartphone from the first day the iPhone released to now, I was unsure as to if and how I could readjust to a non-smartphone life.

Part two will examine those results.