Dumbing Down with Smart Phones

Cell Phone Addiction
Photo Credit: Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Social media abounds with actors demonstrating rude behavior on dates and among family members due to cellphone addiction. Videos and photos depicting cellphone zombies falling into sewers, shafts and broken noses fill news sites and blogs. The situation of pedestrians so absorbed in the screens before them that they fail to notice their other physical surroundings has become so common that YouTube skits and other stages portray the problem, too. WIKIPEDIA even has a Smartphone Zombie site explaining that some cities have addressed the problem with special cellphone sidewalks or lanes to protect sensible people from accident-prone cellphone addicts, and the addicts from themselves. There are even 6 TED Talks That Will Change How You Look at Your Phone.

But broken bones, busted relationships and public humiliation don’t seem to be mitigating the problem. Smart phones are actually dumbing down their users because owners decline to calculate mathematical problems or just about anything else. They do that on their phone apps, and it’s lowering IQ according to some experts in that field of study. The problem is not new. Forbes magazine had a November 10, 2014 article entitled 4 Ways Your Smartphone Is Making You Dumber. The problem is almost a dream come true for infamous former psychologist and eventual psychedelic drugs advocate Timothy Leary, who advised his fans to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”

The pull of a cellphone is so strong that it’s even altering the teenage years. Adolescence was once known for experimentation with autonomy, the rejection of/separation from authority figures so that a young person could develop their own sense of identity. But according to psychologist Jean M. Twenge’s September 2017 article in The Atlantic, the wider world has a Smartphone-driven mental health crisis. Some kids aren’t rejecting their parents because they need them to enable the cellphone addiction. The arrested adolescence is punctuated by teens and tweens who refuse to leave home because they’re so attached to their smart phones.

The Some Daily site presented research to prove that The iPad is a Far Bigger Threat to Our Children Than Anyone Realizes. The evidence points to the Digital Generation’s too-sedentary flabby bodies, lack age-appropriate muscle tone and unsteady gait. Teen-aged minds are too often not engaging in age-appropriate activities as old as the hills. Aggression, obesity, poor sleep habits once attributed only to ill or elderly people, and other disorders, have become familiar to cellphone users and to the worried people observing them. The behaviors are classic symptoms of addiction. What’s an iPhone junkie or anyone supposed to do to improve things?

Use Your Brain, Not Your Cellphone

Going cold turkey, the term for an abrupt end to the use of addictive substances, might be called for. Parents can reject ads cajoling them to buy electronic games, gadgets and cellphones for their offspring. Adults in all kinds of settings can model desired behavior by reducing their cellphone use times, too. They might have some support within the publishing industry, though.

The ‘Net, parenting and teen magazines are packed with advice about how to break off a relationship with a cellphone. That portrays an increasing awareness of the problem and the potential for redress. However, it is hard to estimate the effect of the awareness or curative tactics. Sales of Samsung phones, tablets and smartphones overall are dropping. A growing number of consumers are flipping off their iPhones to opt for “dumb phones” instead. The phenomenon might correlate with efforts to end the enslavement to a digital device. Then again, cost-cutting measures might be influencing those decreasing sales figures. Perhaps a combination of addiction-ending motives and money-saving measures are a more realistic assessment of the issue.

No matter the motive, everyone who puts their cellphone down on purpose opens the opportunities to revel in the fun of improved relationships, the soothing effects of enjoying nature, and improved inner plus outer health.


  1. As an educator for many years, I am thrilled to see you address this issue so eloquently. We are raising a generation of youngsters who (on the whole) no longer read books; no longer play outdoors and have short attention spans. Parents used to utilize the television as a babysitter. Today it is children’s electronic devices. We teachers see how less knowledgeable and patient our pupils are compared to those 20 years ago. Pupils often SMS friends sitting in the same room during breaks instead of talking with them! A superb article much needed to be read by one and all!

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