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10/27/13

Talking Points: Is your smart phone making you dumber and unhealthy?

The term "smart phone" has become integrated as part of the English language. But their negative effect on everything from education to health and wellness could leave you speechless.
No one can argue that the likes of the iPhone and Samsung line of phones make life incredibly easy. Whether you're checking your email, shooting a quick "I'll be late" text to your wife or tapping an app to instantly find the weather or check your football scores, smart phones put information and fun at our fingertips.
But is the incessant use of your smart phone making you dumb?
There's no direct evidence to support that you will lose more than a few IQ points because you own a smart phone, but that doesn't mean these delectable devices ultimately equal a better you in the long run.
Communication in general suffers immensely as the dining room table turns into a veritable morgue as far as conversation goes. Everyone is busy checking Facebook or Instagram on their phone, rather than actually discussing the day's events. If you don't believe that, take notes the next time you sit down for a meal.

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The negative effects of the smart phone reverberate the loudest within the walls of any middle school, high school or even college to some extent. Younger students have had a tendency to use their phones to text test answers to their fellow classmates, thus yielding the idea of studying a moot point.
Adults aren't exactly absolved of blame, either. That demographic might be done with school but they're still responsible for take home work at their jobs and putting together presentations at a moment's notice. Paying more attention to your phone than an important report could be disastrous for your pending promotion. Equally paramount for the job force is to pay attention when someone like your boss is talking, whether that it one on one or in a meeting. No one will be "laughing out loud" when you're too busy texting and not tending to your job duties.
You'll quickly be wishing you were listening when your co-worker told you that casual Friday is canceled, especially when you show up in shorts and T-shirt. Ironically, smart phones allow us to retrieve information at will but somehow taken away our ability to listen and communicate.
For kids and adults, the latest trend as far as being addicted to your smart phone doesn't even occur while you're awake but rather subconsciously. The overwhelming penchant for checking phones has given birth to the "sleep text," the art of answering text messages first thing in the morning or waking up in the middle of the night to use your phone. The result is not fully recognizing what you're saying or actually forgetting your response the next day.
If waking from a dead sleep to send a text isn't a cause for concern in terms of phone addiction than what is?
Not only is "sleep texting" potentially dangerous as far as not fully being cognizant of your actions but also leads to a lumbering, stumbling day devoid of focus and your full attention. That's not exactly the message you want to send to fellow employees or teachers.
Dr. Michael Gelb is an expert in sleep treatment and concurs that "sleep texting" could have catastrophic results. Gelb also adds even if you've only dozed off for a few minutes could still spell trouble when attempting to answer any question or comment. The same could be said for texting while driving, although education and awareness on this subject has gained plenty of steam and supporters.
Smart phones aren't going anywhere any time soon, nor should they. Smart phones belong as an integral part of day to day activities.
Just not the entire day.

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