Disturbing effects of using technology and cell phones

6:00 PM

Today, cell phone usage is everywhere. I see cell phones being looked into when people take a walk on a nature trail, drive, are on a date, restaurant, coffee shop. Just a few decades before Steve Jobs created the first 'Apple', cell phones were mostly to communicate, call and text message.

It was a luxury to own a high tech phone. I was around 16 when I got my first cell phone, and even that was monitored periodically and had a message limit amount. It was a prepaid phone. It was a flip phone. Today, cell phone usage is like taking your wallet with you when you go out. It's like using a pillow to sleep.

Recently I noticed a child using a cellphone behind a story book. He was periodically checking if someone was noticing him using the cellphone and hiding it. From a distance, it looked like he was reading a book. I actually felt happy for a split second thinking that all is not lost, but when I just happened to pass by I noticed he was hiding a cellphone underneath this book. Reminded me of times when we would read magazines under study/course books, except that cell phone usage is so addictive.

 A library where there are a ton of books to read, no one seems to read books anymore. I find children playing video games or using their cell phone. I just find it disturbing that a five year old who has so many fascinating things to learn are addicted to cell phones or video games. They don't seem to learn any better from their parents or people around them.

What really compelled me to write is this other incident that recently happened as I was on a flight to work. There was this young boy, who was apparently very sleepy  - it was an early morning flight. As soon as the flight started, both father and son removed a set of tablets and the dad started playing video games. Soon, the son took out his iPad and started playing too. The mom started to sleep. After some time, the dad also fell asleep.
Now as a child, I remember being excited to take a flight, and observe the views outside as well as a chance to connect with my dad/mom.

I was recently at the doctor's office. And yes, children were using the cellphone. I didn't see one child who didn't have a phone in hand.

Other places where I have seen people no longer care for the real world:
  • A walk in a park. I see fewer people stop by to greet or stop for talking. Everyone is busy in their own world these days. 
  • Buses, trains, any communication. Even more disturbing is when it is used by people who are driving. I remembered another incident. I was actually stuck in a side road in Santa Monica. The mother was talking to her child, but the child was not listening. I noticed that the child was just continuously starting at some video game/cell phone and didn't even seem to look outside even once. As I was stuck in traffic and they were right behind me, I realized they didn't have a single eye contact, didn't lookout once and didn't even talk. It was sad.
  • In front of kids
  • While driving! 
  • Bars, Dates, coffee shops: People used to grab coffee and wanted a good ambiance, but the one thing everyone wants today is free and fast Wifi. If not, they will post a review on Yelp. 
  • At home husbands and wives no longer look at the idiot box or talk to each  other at dinner. Dinners are spent staring down into a virtual world. 
Effects and influence:
  • Missing out on real life - People don't talk as much they should, to each other. There is lesser reading, physical activity or things which children (and adults) should normally do.
  • Relationships suffer, as there is lesser quality time when people sit down, talk to each other, spend time with each other. Even if people sit together in the same room, they prefer looking at their phones today. 
  • The virtual world seems more important, fascinating, or dominating. Soon, going out, interacting with others just seems to be for uploading pictures or tweeting stuff.
  • Addiction and  helplessness - It is hard to shut off and disconnect. People even end up sleeping less hours as they keep scrolling up and down and look at meaningless articles. 
  • The internet may be very different than real life. It is grounds for danger and unrealistic expectations of life, relationships, friendships. I have seen pictures of seemingly happy couples who are in miserable marriages. But everyone thinks they're happy. It may make someone else depressed, if they think their own life is not as much fun.
  • There is a potential for being cyber bullied or becoming a cyber bully behind an online mask.  
  • Potential to put oneself in dangerous situations, by giving away important personal information. It is downright dangerous for children, who can access anything from violence to porn to chat with potential groomers or pedophiles. Children do not really have the ability to control themselves with restraint, and they are still innocent and immature. They may not realize a psychopath from a good person, and sometimes it is too late. 
  • Too much information at too little an age. Easy access and exposure to violence, explicit themes or porn at a young age can make way for a deviant - be it one who violates others and/or a criminal. This is not something I am claiming here, there are a lot of studies and research that confirm this. 
  • Possibility of infidelity in a relationship. It is harder to actually go meet someone and cheat, compared to cheating online. Online infidelity is as bad as any other form of cheating, and has broken marriages. 

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Welcome to Sleepy Mom Bliss, written by Amrita. I wanted a platform to share all my experiences, struggles and memories of being a mom.

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