There is no escaping the force that is mobile technology. It is here to stay. And depending on which side of the fence you are on, it is either good or bad – or, perhaps, a bit of both.
We live in an information age. With the aid of computers, smartphones, and internet access, we can have answers at our fingertips within seconds. Sometimes we ask silly questions, and sometimes we search for truly important information – directions, or what to do in times of need.
On one side is the argument that mobile technology is empowering, especially for women, because of its connection to the Internet and thus the Web’s wealth of information. For all of us with access to mobile phones, there are still many who do not, especially those in lower- and middle-income countries. But over the last decade, mobile technology has been quickly expanding in those countries, giving people access to information they never would have had –an important development for those living in remote areas and where infrastructure is lacking. Historically, women and girls have been a marginalized group and have been more affected than men by lack of information. In still-developing countries, cell phones give women and girls the ability to call – or do an internet search – to access important, even life-saving information. Surveys and studies show other benefits for these women as well, such as increased economic and professional opportunities, and a greater sense of independence.
Because modern life seems to necessitate owning a cell or smart phone, access to information is still important in higher-income countries. However, in places like the US, people in general seem to have a changing and different relationship with their phones, allowing others to argue the bad side of mobile technology. Interesting aspects about this relationship were unveiled in a study conducted by Time Inc. in conjunction with a marketing firm focused on women and their relationship with their mobile phones. Firstly, 60% of women surveyed (versus 43% of men) said that their cell phones are the most important devices in their lives. Seventy-eight percent said their phones are the first thing they look at in the morning, and phones account for much their daily free-time activity (texting, viewing social media, and shopping). Nearly all respondents said their phones are with them wherever they go, and 87% can’t imagine their lives without a cell phone. When also considering that women reported their phones as being a source of emotional pleasure, how can one see cell and smart phones as empowering?
Finding a Balance – Internet Addiction
It is a grey world. Anything can be bad for us if left unmonitored – even Internet and mobile technologies. Behavioral addictions form when a person develops a strong compulsion to continue doing something because of some real or perceived reward. Because that person eventually cannot voluntarily disengage from the activity, harmful consequences occur – such as losses that are financial (as in compulsive gambling), personal (disintegrating relationships), or physical (insomnia, weight gain).
Now that we see children with their own mobile phones, what habits are they developing? Are they developing an emotional dependency on their phones? Some people see constant texting and other mobile phone activities that young people engage in as having the conditions for behavioral addiction. And considering how emotionally attached people can become to their cell phones – women seemingly more so than men, this can be a cause for concern.
If a young person – female or male – has developed an internet addiction, getting outside help may be necessary. Teens and young adults seek the internet as a distraction or an outlet for a variety of reasons. In order to treat internet addiction, it is important to discover the underlying causes that led them to overuse it. Programs such as the wilderness therapy developed at Pacific Quest in Hawaii can be incredibly beneficial in numerous ways. Using a Sustainable Growth Model, students learn life skills as well as experience healing all in an environment removed from the addiction source. It is all about finding balance to live the best life possible.