The Pros & Cons of Smartphones

By Jacob Andrew

Smartphones can divide people as much as they connect people.
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Smartphones present a modern conundrum of productivity. On one hand, they enable innovation to follow you wherever you go. On the other hand, they sustain, and often amplify, the negative habits built into our lives. Understanding how to mitigate the bad while emphasizing the good qualities of a smartphone helps you maximize your personal use. Or it may convince you not to own one.

Pro: Always Connected

Smartphones are essentially pocket-sized computers. The biggest difference, however, is its ability to access the Internet through the same towers as a regular cell phone. This extends the reach of not only voice, but email and even video, to a much wider area. This can increase productivity and decrease response time for personal and work tasks.

Con: Always Connected

Those “dings” and “beeps” from your smartphone can turn you into Pavlov’s dog. Since the phone is always on, always within reach, many smartphone users find themselves always at the mercy of its notifications -- especially when they shouldn’t. At work, you may find yourself continuing personal Facebook conversations started earlier that morning. Once at home, you may find yourself responding to the crisis from earlier in the work day. With the line blurred, this can actually result in decreased productivity overall and increased anxiety.

Pro: More Than Phone Calls

A regular phone makes calls. A cell phone makes calls and receives text messages. A smartphone does even more. With the advent of apps, programmers can build functionality into a phone that goes far beyond merely talking. A shipping company, for example, can use a smartphone with a GPS and a custom app to track the movement of cargo at the push of a button. Another app can then be offered to clients to see the movement of their shipments. Such innovation simply does not occur through text messages or voice calls.

Cons: More Than Phone Calls

You can’t efficiently receive updates on your favorite football player through a phone call. You can’t really receive celebrity gossip via text message. You can, however, get all of this and more through smartphone apps. Although smartphones can spur innovation, they more often breed a whole new means of time wasting. Games and apps for virtually every small interest are available, each one vying harder than the last for your attention. As a result, smartphones consume more time with unproductive activities than with productive ones.