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Constant Contact

Tuesday, 24 February 2015 00:00  by Yolanda F.

It’s happening everywhere. People are glued to their phones and missing out on live contact with others in their general vicinity, as well as the chance to see magnificent things going on around them. Such was the case recently when a man sitting on a sailboat didn’t peel his eyes away from his phone to catch a look at perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Off the coast of Redondo Beach, CA, whales were breaching about 50 feet from a sailboat with several people on the boat, including a man staring at his smart phone. The whale and her calf surfaced, according to a photographer who was watching both the whales and the boat, and although two women on the boat caught it in time to take pictures of the whales, the man on his phone missed it.

Eric Smith, the photographer who snapped the shots told ABC News, "He could have been texting his mom in the hospital for all I know, but I thought it sucked that he missed such a wonderful moment happening just two feet in front of him.” Of course, you could also say that a man behind a camera is less likely to be glued to his phone because he’s glued to his camera. The point is we’re all victims of some aspect of technology, which we now wonder how we ever lived without, and it’s robbing us of time spent in other perhaps healthier ways.

A study conducted at Baylor University in Texas uncovered staggering numbers associated with the nation’s cell phone use and therefore considers it an addiction. The study, conducted on college students, showed that women spend about 10 hours a day cell-surfing while men spend nearly eight.

As reported by Baylor media online, researcher James Roberts, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing said, “That’s astounding. As cellphone functions increase, addictions to this seemingly indispensable piece of technology become an increasingly realistic possibility.”

The study also states that about 60 percent of college students admit to the addiction, and some said they feel agitated when their phones are not in sight.

Will there ever be the need for a program like those offered at Brookhaven Retreat for those who want to recover from smart phone addiction? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, we should aim to spend less rather than more time on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and the like, as well as playing games on the phone, because it means we’re less active and more susceptible to disease and illness, and less talkative with those closest to us, which poses a threat to our most important relationships. It also means we may be slacking off in other problem-causing ways.

As with everything, it’s about balance. Yes, we as a people rely heavily on technology, especially our smart phones, but think of all the people you may have loss contact with if not for social media applications like Facebook and Instagram. Think of all the thoughts and photos you wouldn’t share. Also think of the business opportunities that may otherwise be missed without the luxury of constant contact applications like email and texting. Smart phones also mean we’re safer because we have access to people and maps in possibly dangerous situations.

I think we’re pretty fortunate to have the technology we have and believe it gives more than it subtracts. But we shouldn’t abuse it. It’s like that saying, “It’s all fine until somebody gets hurt.” We need to be more mindful of how much time we’re spending and who might be standing patiently (or impatiently) waiting to have our attention.

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