This weekend I was traveling to St. Louis and for one of my flights I had to wait in the airport for 2 hours. I had already walked through the whole terminal and found myself with nothing else to do; therefore, I decided to sit and do some people-watch. A little girl sitting in front of me, around the age of 10, was talking and laughing with her dad until her cellphone starts to ring. What shocked me the most was when I saw the girl pulling out of her little purse an iPhone. How can a little girl have an iPhone already? It’s not as if she needs to be in constant communication through her e-mails, or searching the web for information, or organize her calendar and schedule. Kids, now a day, use iPhones simply for the games or to hear music. This made me think of how society has created such dependence to smart phones that even parents give their kids expensive phones just to play with them instead of encouraging them to be active.
It has become obvious that smart phones are very useful to humans. We have everything we need in one small technological artifact. McLuhan states in his book “Understanding Media”, that “media are the extension of man”, meaning that it allows us to express ourselves and breaks all the limitations by allowing humans to extend their ability to do things. A smart phone is definitely an extension to all humans because we can communicate with people all around the world through our voice and the webcam. We can access all the information that we need through the internet; we do not have to memorize phone numbers, address, or even the rout to get to a place. We don’t even have to learn how to spell a word because it has auto correct and translation. The truth is that the iPhone corrects all our human impediments and gives us the ability to have “superpowers”.
However, smart phones, as well as other types of media, amputates people; it puts new limitations. Humans have become so dependent to their phones that they don’t even rely in other types of media to achieve what they want, such as: dictionary, paper maps, notepads, or in-person communication, among other types of medium. As I was able to observe with the little girl and her father, the phone separated her from continuing to talk to her father and ignoring all her surroundings, focusing only on her phone. Another example is that phones cause us to be lazy. The other day, my roommate was in her room and I was in the living room (50 feet away, more or less) and instead of her walking to ask me something, she just sent a text and did not have to move. Phones have revolutionized how we see the world, but it has also changed how we interact with others.
As a result, although smart phones can make our lives very easy and comfortable, it also deprives us to use other types of media or simply makes us more sedentary. An iPhone is a very cool technological artifact that is changing the way we see the world and is shaping society. However, I do think there is an appropriate time to give and iPhone to a child. Children have to experience what other generations have gone through and be constantly active and socializing. Parents should not deprive their kid’s childhood by giving them smart phones and the latest technological artifact. As one student said in class: “technology is making kids more socially awkward and consequently, they are growing up to be less sociable and do not learn how to interact with other humans in person”. Thus, we should not forget the other types of medium in society; we could learn how to incorporate them all in different ways instead of depending so much on our smart phones.