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Nov 22 2011

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Is there a 12 step program for iPhone addiction?

I’m an angry birds widow.

Doc got a new iPhone the other day – well, he usurped his son’s but that’s another story – and he hasn’t stopped playing with it since. Angry birds mainly.

Every so often I hear a cry of “I beat my high score”, and I smile sweetly and tell him he’s very clever.  But going through my head is a constant mantra “don’t get the hammer to smash the phone. Don’t get the hammer to smash the phone. Don’t get the hammer …..”

Naturally, prior to this Doc was very anti-iPhones and other devices. He was always muttering about “young people today” and their reliance on technological communications.

Even though I love new technology, and am an iPhone enthusiast myself, I must say that I agree with a lot of what he said. Particularly the tendency some people have to live via their phones and facebook interactions rather than in the moment.

I went to one concert with my daughter where the couple sitting next to us were using their iPhones to message each other rather than talking directly, though that could have been because they couldn’t hear over the volume of the music, it was Metallica after all!

But the point is they didn’t seem to be enjoying the concert at all, though they didn’t walk out or leave early. They spent the whole time taking photos of the band, sending them to facebook, then comparing notes on what they’d done on line. I don’t think they watched the concert itself for even one full song. They certainly didn’t stand up at any time except to take photos.

And as far as I can see, if you interact more on line than you do in real life, and can’t seem to focus on what’s happening in front of you, then that’s an addiction that requires a 12 step program.

Given that Australians buy over 1 million mobile phones a month, and more than half of those are smart phones, that’s a lot of people who might get addicted  to the ease of phone/facebook interface and/or to apps and games. According to IDC Angry Birds is one of the most popular smartphone apps

So we should be making plans for the social problems this might cause now. Is there anywhere you can stand up in front of your peers and say “I’m an iPhone/facebook/angry birds addict” and get the help you need?

Doc’s current fixation is nowhere near the addiction stage yet, but it is annoying. And the worst part of it is I know I can’t say anything because I did exactly the same when I got my iPhone. And so did all my kids and everybody I know. It’s like a new toy, and like any new toy for most people the novelty wears off in time, I just have to be patient.

But if he asks for a DS or an iPad for Christmas I might just reach for that hammer ….

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