June 14, 2024

Westside People

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Adults and teens choose smartphones to reduce social media addiction

Adults and teens choose smartphones to reduce social media addiction

Image source, Getty Images

  • author, Emma Vardy
  • Role, Los Angeles correspondent, BBC News

Adults and teens who are concerned about their screen time are turning over their smartphones to “dumb” models.

In the settings of many smartphones there is an option to look up the average time you spend staring at your phone per day.

This can lead to the uncomfortable realization that what was supposed to be a useful piece of technology has become an obsession.

Luke Martin, 16, from Canada, told the BBC: “Social media is built around the fear of missing out, so I felt like I couldn’t get rid of it.”

“Immediately I got on Instagram and it was a downward spiral.”

According to a study conducted by Harvard University, using social networking sites lights up the same part of the brain that is also active when consuming an addictive substance. This has raised concerns about phone habits among young people.

In the UK, research by Ofcom estimates that around a quarter of five- to seven-year-olds now have their own smartphones.

Some studies have shown links between social media use and its negative impact on mental health – especially in children.

His new phone only has text messages, calls, maps, and a few other limited tools.

“I think my friends’ usage was four to five hours, and that’s how much I used before I got this,” he said.

“Now I have 20 minutes a day which is really good because I only use it for what I need.”

Comment on the photo, Lizzie Broughton says her son has benefited from the smartphone

Lizzie Broughton, who has a five-year-old son, recently bought an old-fashioned Nokia ‘flip’ phone.

She explained: “It helped me reset my own habits, and I have more quality time with my son.”

She says that when the time comes for him to get his own phone, she will choose a similar miniature model.

“It doesn’t seem like the best idea to start with a smartphone,” she said. “It’s like we’re handing over the world, like trying to figure out how to deal with that.”

Video explanation, These are smartphones, the popular low-tech devices

Smartphone sales are increasing in North America. At Dumbwireless in Los Angeles, store owners Daisy Krigbaum and Will Stults cater to customers looking for low-tech devices.

“We have a lot of parents who are looking forward to their children getting their first phone, and they don’t want to get carried away on the Internet,” he said.

But giving up your smartphone is easier said than done. Mr Stults said some schools required pupils to have certain apps. Ms Broughton said it was difficult to maintain the streak when children saw their friends getting expensive smartphones.

“It will take the parenting community to be the same, can we do it differently?” She said.

One solution is a device called an “unpluq,” which you can tap on your phone to wirelessly block certain apps, such as social media.

“Parents can control the smartphone using this tag, as well as monitor usage,” Stults said.

There are many phones now developed specifically for users who want to avoid the addiction of mindless scrolling.

Chris Caspar founded Techless to develop a “deliberately boring” but stylish device that closely resembles the iPhone. The latest version is called “Wisephone II”.

“It has no icons, just words, two colors, and two fonts.” He describes it as “very peaceful and very quiet.”

It will have some limited third-party tools, such as the Uber taxi app, but there will be no social media.

“We ask the question: What is good for us?” Mr. Kaspar said.

Comment on the photo, Wisephone has very limited features

He first developed the phone with his teenage daughters in mind, and says 25% of their sales are for children, but it is marketed to adults.

“If you have a phone that’s branded as a kids’ device, there’s some shame associated with that. So we made a sophisticated, adult Apple-style device, which is a really beautiful device.

He said that with app and social media advertising revenues reaching billions of dollars, big companies have little incentive to encourage different habits.

Meanwhile, Canadian teenager Luke says he plans to keep using his new device, to entertain his friends.

“They think it’s very strange, but at this point I think it doesn’t really matter because it’s helped me so much,” he said.

“This has definitely taken me to a better place now.”