Does this sound familiar? You settle down to relax after a days work, the TV is as usual on and turning out the usual “reality” fest of low grade entertainment. Out of courtesy you check what your partner/family/ friends would prefer to watch, hoping you can for once agree but… when you look around the room you notice all fellow inhabitants are glued to the screen. No not the 40 inch flat screen in the corner but the 2.5 inch by 3 inch version held in the hand.

Are we becoming obsessed by our smartphones? You might think so if you, like me, play dodge the teenager on the high street as they walk along in a somnambulistic style, hypnotised by their device unable to look up and see who they’re about to collide with.

But is it the device or something else that’s causing this epidemic? The smartphones provide a portal to a new and exciting world but the true cause of our preoccupation are the various applications that live on these instruments.

Just before you think I’m taking the high ground I need to confess to my own weaknesses. Yes, I too have an addiction to the touch screen world. For me it started with my first iphone and has developed as I’ve been able to run my world through it. Well, perhaps more accurately it runs me.

I can break the problem down to 4 main areas of activity that can quickly become an addictive.

1. Checking e-mail
2. Checking text messages (it’s quite worrying how many drivers I see texting while driving!)
3. Checking social media sites for likes, mentions and comments
4. Games

Yes I tend to check my e-mail too often which is not helped by the multiple accounts and spam. There have also been a couple of recent examples of sudden onset addiction brought about by a newly downloaded app.

A problem with my broadband connection led to me downloading the “speedtest” app. Let’s just say I become rather too obsessed with download and upload speeds for a couple of weeks.

The other time thief is the analytical tools I have to measure social media activity. Yes I have too many sites but then its my job to keep abreast of these platforms. But my love/hate relationship with Klout is unhealthy and it’s time for the “it’s me not you, I need some time to work things out” break up conversation.

I do use a very large number of social media sites but I don’t think I’m unusual in the time I spend with my smartphone. Not unusual by the benchmark of the average user but that’s because we’ve become used to having our devices with us constantly.

It can’t be good for us to become obsessed and addicted to anything despite the attraction and apparent benefits of the developing technology. How much time can we fritter away on Angry Birds, Temple Run, Instagram (perfecting the image through photo apps), Linkedin group exchanges, Facebook babble, Tweets and RT’s, celebrity face matching…you get the idea.

But perhaps we should test our resolve and see how much of a problem we have. Here’s the “Screen Test” challenge. Pick one day this week and have 24 hours without access to your phone, tablet or smart device.

I did this recently and will now be making a habit of it as that day proved to be one of my most productive for quite some time.

Things you can do….

1. Catch up with industry/ local news by reading magazines
2. Plan ahead – your forthcoming week, month, year
3. Get creative and think of how you might make better use of your time and when you do have access to the device how you can take back control.
4. Arrange to meet that contact who you’ve been meaning to catch up with for months.

The technology is great but it’s still only a tool to be used effectively and not something that should dominate our lives. Just take the “Screen Test” and let me know how it was for you.

David Laud

Take the Screen Test to See if You’re Addicted to Apps

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