Smartphones make us rude…and stupid!


I have heard smartphones referred to as “rudephones.” They certainly have coarsened behavior in the non-virtual world. Who hasn’t been stuck in a line behind someone telling the cashier to “wait a moment?” while they finish messaging or talking? Or been cutoff by a minivan or truck driving who seems to be texting while driving?

I know of a preschool that sent a note to parents saying that “The high point of your child’s day is when you pick them up after school. Please do not be staring at a screen or talking when they first see you. We will not release children to a parent who is using their phone.”

On the sidelines of children’s soccer games, in the pews at church, in the booths of nice restaurants, and in the front row of classrooms people are “descreetly” messaging on Face book or texting. (Why are they staring at their laps?) And of course what is a nice meal out without someone allowing the children at the next table to game or play YouTube videos – with the sound on.

My favorites of all are the smartphone users in movie theaters! They may want to multitask during the movie, but why do they assume we do also?

What is your favorite rude smartphone use example?

STUPID – Paying $500 to acquire a learning disability

This past Saturday I braked for a biker who veered into my lane: he was messaging while pedaling his bike on Main Street Blacksburg! Driving while messaging or texting is a great STUPID example but I argue that the effect of smartphones on intelligence is more pernicious.

Current research on learning indicates that attention is the most important factor in learning and multitasking of any sort kills attention and learning. In the book, The Shallows, studies are cited showing that  hyperlinks to citations in the text of a paper impair learning. Imagine having Facebook and YouTube in your control bar while you are trying to take lecture notes! 

For students and anyone interested in learning, buying a smartphone may essentially  amount to paying $500 to acquire a learning disability. The students eerily smiling while look down at their lap and the seminar attendees glancing at their cell phones will less and more slowly. But they will know what their friends are up to.  

As rampant multitasking causes us to learn less will smarter smartphones come to our aid? 

(Cycle of dependency?)

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4 Responses to Smartphones make us rude…and stupid!

  1. File under: Gary (again) says what we all have been thinking. My feeling is that it is not the technology’s fault, but rather a deeper societal demand for productivity. But the metaphor runs deep: if you don’t know where you are going in life you can’t figure it out be looking down at your smartphone and taking eyes off of Main Street, Blackburg or wherever you happen to be!

  2. Gary Schirr says:

    Thanks Sander!

    I will take you to mean I am tapping universal truths… rather than being Captain Obvious 😉

    Online can be enriching but it can also be limiting. – Gary

  3. T-Rev says:

    There is nothing more frustrating than sitting at a meal across from someone staring in their lap going “uhuh, uhuh….” only to ask “What?” When asked to recall what I was just saying. Smartphones are wonderful resources when used appropriately. I wish that their was an app that would not allow the car to start unless the mobile is turned off. I think there are a few that have ‘car mode’ to turn off most functions, but geez. Texting while driving (and riding a bike too apparently) is just not worth it! Thanks for the great blog!

  4. Gary Schirr says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

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