Why Smartphones Come With Psychological Costs
Sure, smartphones can distract us, make us less social and and keep us up gaming late at night. But do they actually damage our psyche and well being? That’s what author Daniel Gulati argues in a recent Harvard Business Review article.
Gulati observed hundreds of young professionals for his new book “Passion & Purpose,” and found that “frequent smartphone use imposes significant psychological costs on the user.” He argues it negatively impacts our professional and personal life in three ways:
1. Smartphones Make Us Forgetful: With so much information at our fingertips, we’ve become lazy when it comes to thinking on our own. “We’re relying on more cognitive crutches than ever,” he says.
2. Smartphones Make Us Non-Committal: Our devices make us more accessible than ever these days. Yet because of that — the ability to change anything last minute — it puts us in a “constant grey zone.” “We waste time preserving optionality,” Zulati says.
3. Smartphones Fragment Our Attention: We get so many push notifications, we can’t ever bear down on one thing. “It becomes difficult to focus on larger, more important tasks,” he says.
Indeed, other experts like “Getting Things Done” bestselling author David Allen have questioned smartphones‘ contribution to productivity. And psychologists recognize that too much smartphone use can detriment human interaction and workplace environment.
But surely there are positive effects, too. “Drive” author Daniel H, Pink has argued that mobility can provide motivation. And we’ve seen smartphones and tablets revolutionize various business units, including field service organizations, human resource departments and remote workers. Just think about all the emails sent, reservations booked and communication made when you’re waiting for the train or in line at the grocery store.
Do the pros outweigh the cons? How can we better manage or mitigate the “psychological costs” of smartphones? Surely we aren’t all going to toss them in the trash can, so how can we make the most of our smartphones without compromising our well being?