Who’s really to blame for ‘smartphone addiction’, and who’s responsible for curbing it?

“Mary Shelly’s novel Frankenstein (Frankenstein is the doctor’s name not the monster’s) and the play ‘Rossum’s Universal Robots’ (R.U.R is the place where the word ‘robot’ was coined) share a similar metaphor,” Michael Gartenberg writes for iMore. “What happens to society when a creator’s creation gets away from them, when the creation can no longer be controlled by the creator?”

“Lately there’s been a lot of talk about ‘smartphone addiction,'” Gartenberg writes. “One of the hallmarks of Google’s I/O conference are a set of feature in Android P designed to allow users to quantify their digital lives, set limits on application usage and create more granular parental controls. There have been cries for Apple to do the same with iOS. (iOS 12 anyone?)”

“It is possible that our creations are at the point where it feels that perhaps they are controlling us, not we controlling them. The easiest way to avoid your phone controlling your life is to not let your phone control your life. Truth is, that’s easier said than done for some people, so here are a few suggestions that don’t require a vendor to solve this ‘problem,'” Gartenberg writes. “Just take some lessons from the TV world.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, we should be able to do this on our own (and some of us have already even done so), but we’d like to see some more tools available from Apple since, after all, it’s the company’s job to provide tools that allow us to do things, including managing our time, better.

Has Steve Jobs’ iPhone destroyed a generation? – August 3, 2017
Steve Jobs was a low-tech parent – September 11, 2014


  1. Addiction is addiction. Some people are just really weak, and cannot help themselves. Also, if we did not have any social media of any kind, that would probably cure 99% of it. It would sure cut down on school shootings (bullying via social media, which then causes the bullied to seek revenge)….

      1. The reality is that the individual is practically powerless against the corporation. That is precisely why government is needed, wisely crafted regulations that protect the citizens are vital, and that every bit of propaganda that is pushed onto you from a for-profit multinational should be scrutinized highly.

  2. I think smartphone affects us in several ways. 1) social anxiety, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, discussion boards all breed comparison, shame, sniping, trolling, manipulation buy ‘bots etc. Solution: don’t use them.

    2) Hyperlinking in general contributes to attention span issues. The instant you get bored you’re just a click away. I once wound up on the Zimbabwe home page at 2:00 in the morning and I had no idea how I got there. Solution, try to do one thing at a time and finish it before moving on.

    3) Interrupt driven life. For some reason we love it. I heard a google guy once say solution was to turn off notifications.

    I’m sure there are more examples but, as Spider-Man’s father said, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

  3. Societies loose powers and devices over which they often lose control. The Golem is one; The ability to create industrial strength poisons is another. Perhaps an Apple gadget is a small Golem but, while the mythical Golem killed the rabbi, a gadget can’t kill people so it’s innocuous. But gadget production creates poisons and that’s being addressed a little.

  4. As usual, I proclaim that the state of human psychology remains primitive. Owing to this great chasm of ignorance, gadgetry is frequently blamed for aberrant human behavior. There clearly are addiction prone people. But to blame the playing cards for their poker addiction is entirely missing both the cause and the cure. Muddling on, we avoid understanding ourselves.

    1. How, exactly, is human psychology primitive? We know more today about what makes us tick than we’ve learned in the last ten thousand years! Now is not the time to throw up our hands in despair at our eternal human failings — but to acknowledge that we now can grasp their biological origins and through fully understanding ourselves for the first time, conquer them.

      1. Let me count the ways:
        • Medications for mental disorders without known working mechanisms. Instead, they’re shots in the dark that happen to work, somehow.
        • Medications synthesized on the back of benzene rings, causing light sensitivity in those who take them.
        • Continued profound hampering of understanding of human sexuality.
        • No standardization of the spectrum of psychopathy.
        • Continued obtuse definition of psychopathy as physiological rather than taking into account both nature and nurture.
        • Meagre data connecting genetics with psychology, including the above mentioned psychopathy and personality.
        • Meagre understanding of the connection between stress response systems and the depression spectrum.

        The list above is off the top of my head AND I’m not a studied student of psychology. Taking a casual glance through the DSM, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, reveals the often profoundly clunky contemporary categorization of mental illnesses.

        IF we had psychology, I’d hope we’d apply it to allowing our human world to actually work by removing from our control systems those humans with innately destructive personalities, ambitions and mental disorders. I guestimate would remove about ⅔ of all politicians, much to my delight, as well as many company executives and nearly all propaganda pundits.

        1. Very nicely articulated, Derek. I plead generalities and you respond with specifics. That’s the kind of give-and-take we need more of around here.. it leads to meaningful debates.. which are far better than the usual eye-rolling mud-slinging insult-fests. I’d like to elaborate on my seemingly naïve hopes.. at another, less stressful time. There’s, uh, a lot going on.

          1. Much as I complain about having too much to do, with perspective it’s nice to realize one has plenty of things to do. I’ve never been comfortable with boredom. I hope you find some gem stones amidst the muck. 😉

  5. We ALL are responsible for our smartphone addiction and PARENTS are responsible for curbing said addiction of their children. Very simple….let’s not complicate things here America…

    1. That being said, it would seem to me any tools that can be provided by the developer of said device to assist the parent or user in curbing addiction would be a good selling point.

  6. Dam those potato chips, slurpys, romance novels, TVs, yarn, lottery cards, books…..
    Have I made my point yet?
    Anything taking over your life could be called an addiction.

    The problem is the person that chooses to not be responsible.

  7. How can there be such a question?

    Oh, wait. I forgot how some people see all of their problems as the fault of others.

    Any addiction is the responsibility of the individual. Any abuse of any resource is the responsibility of the individual.

    I’m overweight. I have bad eating habits. I work all day, never even taking lunch, then eat too much for dinner and pass out. That is no one’s fault but my own. It’s not the fault of junk food, large sodas, or even my fork.

    In all matters, you are responsible for your actions.

    1. The scapegoat phenomenon is as old as the history of mankind. “Kill The Messenger” is an ancient favorite whereby anyone bringing bad news to an overlord was immediately murdered as the vector of the bad news. It’s somehow automatic, if not instinctual. It’s also total nonsense. In my idealized world, we all take responsibility for our choices and actions. It’s somewhat like libertarianism. But we humans have a very long way to go before we take responsibility both individually and as a species. Our current times are yet another period of avoidance of responsibility and avoidance of positive change, despite our figurative Rome burning, aka our various pollutions of miracle planet Earth, our only home (as I like to put it).

      1. What’s missing from the overly casual discussion here is the importance of statistical studies to determine the facts of who or what are the responsible agents, vectors, or correlatives. The combination of anecdotal evidence and personal biases is a medieval artifact, a toxic deterrence to realising what works. Strong personal feelings and beliefs may be human nature, but they’re the enemy of science, which in the end is not our enemy but our only real friend. Perhaps that is why politicians have such an aversion to it: they all portray themselves as our only real friends, writing off all the others (including scientists) as having nefarious agendas. What a cocked-up mess is Man!

        1. I can tolerate the contentious noise, the eternal battles between the rational and emotional, the creation and destruction, if only we could mature enough as a species to join together in strategies to clean up the multiple messes that are increasingly compromising the survival of life on Earth, including ourselves. That’s the center, the mountain peak around which my cynicism turns.

          Thankfully, I enjoy growing my spirit by climbing and conquering my own peaks from which I gather new perspectives and insight.

    2. How do you choose between similar appearing foods if the big bad evil government doesn’t regulate food quality and require accurate food labeling? Do you know what food was like before the FDA?

      No individual is going to be successful guessing which foods are pumped full of corn syrup and fillers unless there is regulation. Corporations have scientifically designed modern processed food to maximize profits, not keep you healthy. The only way you can keep yourself healthy is with data that corporations prefer to keep as trade secrets.

      Or do you eat only leafy greens you grow yourself? People who do intelligent things like that are labeled “liberals” by fat asses — right wing talking heads like Limbaugh who haven’t had a healthy meal in their entire lives.

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