Forget robots, smartphones have taken over; whatever direction you look in today, you are bound to see someone enthralled in the latest iPhone or Samsung model. Mobiles have become an integral part of our everyday lives; we book tickets, send emails, order food, buy clothes, watch films, play games, online bank, take pictures and videos, and communicate with friends and family on our devices. For many, living without one feels like an impossible task. By the end of 2018, 66% of individuals in 52 key countries* will own a smartphone. And it’s not just teens and adults who are glued to their handsets; the Independent reports that 25% of children under six have a smartphone today, with 50% of them spending up to 21 hours per week on their handsets. Bear in mind these numbers don’t include those with just a basic mobile phone.

Dangers of Phone Use

Phone addiction is a real issue, but it’s far from the only affliction affecting users. It seems the latest technologies designed to make our lives easier could have harmful consequences. For years we’ve seen headline after headline surrounding the possible dangers of owning a smartphone but, looking at the statistics, they seem to have gone unnoticed. If it’s not a headline about heavy phone use being linked to an increased rate of social isolation, depression and even suicide, it’s one that reads “Cell phones causing car crashes and deaths.” If it’s not worries about the blue light some phones emit (increasing your chance of developing breast or prostate cancer), it’s concerns about excessive mobile use causing neck, elbow and hand problems. Worryingly, these are just a few of the health concerns linked with mobile phone use.

The numbers tell us that such headlines haven’t deterred people from buying and using mobiles. Today, the average person spends 3.9 years of their life on their phone. So, if we come to accept they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, one thing we can change for the better is what we use them for. Forget social media, dating apps and streaming the latest Game of Thrones episode, here are five better uses for your smartphone:

1. Learn Something New

Ever considered developing your knowledge in a particular field or learning a new language? Apps like Duolingo can help you learn up to 29 different languages for free (and in your own time), whilst the gift of the internet can supply you with platforms to learn about SEO or the latest cooking tips, for example. There is no end of information on the World Wide Web and there is a plethora of apps that can help you learn in almost any subject.

2. A Wider Cause

Mobiles don’t have to be just for selfish reasons. There are many things you can do with your phone to better the lives of others. Free apps such as Give2Charity allow you to turn the points you earn – by simply going about your day – into cash donations towards your favourite cause. What’s more, an app called the DreamLab (launched by Vodafone) gives people the opportunity to help speed up cancer research; all volunteers have to do is let the app run whilst their phone charges when they sleep.

3. Improve Your Wellbeing

Through apps such as Weight Watchers and Nike+ Training Club, we can keep track of our diets and fitness regimes to improve our health. Meditation app Headspace has captured the attention of many smartphone users; Headspace allows individuals to get themselves into a better frame of mind by following a few simple exercises for just a few minutes a day.

4. Keep Organised

If you’re one of those individuals always rushing around and doing things last minute, your phone can be used as a tool for organisation. With smartphone technology, you can schedule appointments, manage tasks and so much more. Are you utilising your phone’s calendar? You can sync it to your emails so that surprises are reduced to mere memories of your former, unorganized self.

5. Get Creative

You don’t have to be a graphic designer or an artist to be creative. Rather than opting for a 30-minute Candy Crush session, why not choose to fill your spare time with something that gets your brain firing? Apps such as SketchBook allow you to exercise your imagination and get your creative juices flowing. Creative activities are therapy for your mind; they can improve mental clarity and mood, and increase brain function.

Ready to reduce the amount of time you spend on your phone, but need a little helping hand? Surprise, surprise, there are apps that can help you do this. Apps Forest and Mute, for example, help you stay away from your smartphone by tracking your activity and then showing you the (scary) results. There’s even a Norwegian app that incentivises students to stay off their phones by offering them points which they can exchange for snacks and cinema tickets.

Do you have a keen interest in technology and computing? Maybe you’d like to design your own app one day? UKCBC offers a Computing HND which could put you on a path to a successful career in the sector. Contact UKCBC today for more information on your next educational steps.


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