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Commentary: Smartphone dependency a brain-emptying worry for some users

Courtesy of MCT

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I got an iPhone for Christmas. Now, two months later, it is undeniable that it has been deeply integrated into my life.

Just about every single day I use it to plan homework, do homework, check Carmen, read the news, send emails and more. I’m sure this semester would be a nightmare without it.

Smartphone technology has opened up a world of possibilities for us, but I wonder: could the ability to get quicker and quicker access to more and more information have any negative consequences?

The first possibility that comes to my mind is information overload. There’s just so much out there to know that it can be maddening trying to keep up. 

But there’s something else I’m noticing myself doing with my smartphone that I think is potentially problematic.

It’s like a portable knowledge machine. With it, I can look up any fact in seconds. It has turned me into a trivia buff at certain times and a medical professional at others. It also has become central to the way I plan my day, from waking me up in the morning to reminding me of all my appointments. 

In the way my iPhone lets me carry limitless information around with me, I find myself using it a lot like an external hard drive for my brain. I’m using it to take some of the load off my brain, as I trust it to remember all my important dates and data so I don’t have to. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I have so much to remember nowadays that it’s nice to be able to pull up my assignments, COTA stop schedules and all that stuff in just minutes. But this is an ability that definitely should not be taken for granted.

We should be careful not to let a gadget do all our thinking for us. It’s great for keeping up-to-date with the constant tidal wave of new figures and facts, but when I start exporting data from my brain into it like files into an external memory drive, I fear I could be undermining the strength of my own memory in the long term. I’m afraid I might become somewhat dependent on it to keep up with my own increasingly complex life. I never want to find myself in a situation where part of my brain runs out of battery when I need it.

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