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How the smartphone became a ‘killer’ of social life

In a world driven by technological advancements, it’s no surprise that many individuals experience a fear of being without their phones.

However, a growing awareness is emerging about the detrimental effects of excessive phone usage, prompting a shift towards a more mindful and balanced relationship with these devices.

While smartphones undeniably make life easier by granting instant access to information and connecting us with the world, they have the potential to alter our behavioral patterns.

All too often, social gatherings are marred by people engrossed in their phones, diminishing the importance of interpersonal communication, while family members often struggle to effectively communicate as attention is divided between screens and conversations.

Michelle Auma, a resident in Nairobi, has shared her personal experience of how her smartphone usage affected her behaviour.

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Auma acknowledged the stress caused by feeling unavailable and the fear of missing out on important information, even when there was no expectation of any urgent communication.

“I can never leave the house without my phone, and in case I forget it I must go and get it. I can’t imagine not having my phone with me. I usually get extremely agitated when my battery is down. I get stressed just by the thought of being unavailable,” Auma says.

“I sometimes fear that if I switch off my phone I might miss out on important information even when I’m not expecting any important calls or text messages from anyone.”

Similarly, John Muila, also a resident of Nairobi, admitted having difficulty in sleeping without his phone, which he always keeps tucked under his pillow every night.

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His morning routine includes checking emails and messages before even getting out of bed, driven by the fear of missing crucial communications. Muila confesses to resorting to scrolling through his phone whenever he feels bored.

“I can’t sleep without my phone, I always tucked it under my pillow every night so that I don’t miss out on anything. When I wake up, I check my emails and messages before hopping off the bed, just in case an important communication was sent while I was asleep. Anytime I feel bored I scroll through my phone,” he says.

Studies have shown the negative consequences of excessive phone usage, including mental health issues such as depression, insomnia and restlessness. Tragic road accidents have also been attributed to distracted driving caused by phone use.

While technology undoubtedly brings numerous benefits, it is crucial to exercise caution and strike a balance. Recognizing the potential harms associated with excessive phone usage, individuals are now embracing the idea of mindful smartphone consumption.

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