If you ask anyone to empty their pockets, there is one thing that everyone has - a smartphone. Smartphones are fantastic - they allow you to order a cab on the fly, generate an invoice, pay a bill, and connect with your clients. Modern smartphones are however a two-edged sword. With all the convenience they bring, they also bring a nefarious darker side in the form of chronic addiction.
When your phone pings with a message or a notification, it releases dopamine in our brains - the same chemical reaction we experience with alcohol, cigarettes, and gambling. Small doses of dopamine are great - they give us an innocent buzz and a pleasant flutter. This chemical reaction can, however, lead to a hard-core addiction. The abuse of alcohol and gambling has broken millions of families and careers. The abuse of all three has led to health and wellness problems.
So, how do you know if you are addicted to your phone? Here is a list of warning signals:
the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is to check your phone
you rather spend time on your phone than with people
your phone is the first thing you turn to when you are feeling down
The majority of alcoholics were introduced to drinking when they were children. So let's go back in time to the start of life. When we are born, the only approval we needed was from our parents. As we grow into adolescence we discover that parental approval is not enough, we need approval from our friends and peers - something that most parents battle to understand. But when friends let us down - because they are not as unconditional in their approval as their parents - kids look for other ways to cope. Before smartphones, alcohol was the drug of choice to help them weather the trying times of adolescence. But it is difficult for kids to get their hands on hard liquor and this is for good reason. Authorities know that kids are not equipped with the tools to withstand the addictive qualities of alcohol.
Such age restrictions, however, do not exist on smartphones. But smartphones are the gateway to social media, and social media is highly addictive. Allowing children to run amok on social media is like lowering the legal drinking age to 12. Now when kids feel sad and stressed, they can turn to the one thing that is always available and will always give them feedback - social media.
Kids today have no reference to a time before smartphones - they have grown up with them their entire lives. Smartphones are as normal to them as television and radio were for us. This is where kids go for approval, validation, and encouragement. They go to a world that is insincere, often false and self-serving, and does not have the best interests of the kids in mind. Social media is like a giant alcohol distributor that wants to get people addicted to their platforms and consume like imbeciles. Facebook will unashamedly confess to this.
So what does this mean for the kids of today? A common criticism of modern kids is that they are entitled and this could be true. But I would like to add another trait into the mix - maybe they have a warped concept of time which is more dangerous than entitlement. The smartphone supplies instant gratification and the belief that life is easy and convenient. Same-day delivery, ordering a taxi on your phone, and instant access to films, videos, and songs have created a life of ease and convenience. Teachers tell all kids they are special and hand out participation medals for both the winners and losers. Teachers sometimes award good grades to kids because they are afraid of dealing with angry parents. Kids at university are seen as clients and not students - and the client is always right.
These kids then get thrown into the workforce and discover they are not so special. Bosses are not concerned about their sensitivities and their need to be nurtured and handheld. These old-school bosses are focused on the bottom line. This creates a serious problem because it asks these kids to work in a place that does not help them. Either the companies need to change or the kids need to change. It is easier to achieve the former where bosses need to have the emotional intelligence to understand the importance of the well-being of these kids. If you want other people to take responsibility for the growth and development of your children, why don't you (if you are a manager) take responsibility for the growth of other people's children in your company?