Whether you are a middle aged man with a steady income or a high school student struggling to maintain a social life, smartphones have become indispensable to any generation and are one of the most common and versatile tools used in everyday life. Smartphone have quickly become multi-purpose devices-you can do a ridiculous number of things with them! You can keep in touch with people, play games, pay bills, shop, and stay current with news around the world. Plus, you can take and share pictures (browsing social media is so easy people constantly have their phones in their hand). Indeed, the smartphone has changed the world as we know it- it has even changed the way we use our brains!
You may have read articles or heard people claim that smartphones make you “dumber”. In truth, they “have the potential to make our brains sharper.” With internet access at your fingerprints to retrieve information in a matter of seconds, the need to memorize countless facts has become a thing of the past. A Harvard scholar refers to the internet as “an external memory source that we can access at any time.” This allows us to focus our brainpower on critical thinking and analysis rather than the simple memorization of facts. Studies have gone as far as to show that brain activity increases just by having a phone to your ear.
Furthermore, there have been studies that suggest that the way we remember information is changing as well. Instead of storing information in our brains and remembering facts, most people conduct internet searches multiple times a day. While on the surface this task might seem to be weakening brain power, it may actually improve brain health and prevent cognitive decline. Our brains have evolved alongside search engines like Google and IMDB, allowing us to better prioritize our brainpower. While it is true that we have become worse at memorizing and regurgitating information, we have become much better at researching. In other words, we aren’t thinking less. We are simply utilizing the internet as a tool to supplement our brains and allow us to be more efficient in our thinking. As Harvard Professor of neurology David K. Urion puts it, “We know that interaction with technology changes the brain, but we’re in the driver’s seat and we can determine how we want to use it.”
There are countless phone apps that can be said to “revolutionize your life.” There are apps that tell you the weather, apps that make suggestions on what to wear or what to eat, and even apps that let you know what events are happening near you. This allows you to maximize your productivity throughout the day. There are even apps that essentially replace libraries, making thousands of books one click away, saving you from the task of actually having to go out and physically finding a book to buy. While apps won’t be able to replace medical doctors anytime soon, there is an app, iDoctor, that can potentially warn you of a possible heart attack.
While the mobile phone has gradually declined in size over the years, when the smartphone emerged, the phone screen became so important that the mobile phone began to grow in size again. For the average user, a smartphone’s touchscreen is easily the most important part of the phone.
Unsurprisingly, cracked phone screens are a common problem for smartphone users. With the way we use our smartphones in lieu of our own memory, having a cracked screen is a lot like having a cracked brain. If your phone is cracked, or the battery is dead, suddenly all of the information that was within your grasp is unattainable and your external memory file is shut down. Perhaps this is why most people have trouble being without their phone for a single day, and end up getting their screen replaced as soon as possible.
Smartphones are here to stay, and will only become more integrated into society over time. They are shaping the way we use our brains, so much so that we are beginning to depend on them. Having a broken phone is as stressful as losing your keys, running out of gas or even can go as far as make you lose your mind-or at least, a part of it.