By Tracy Bryan
About two years ago I was sitting in a restaurant with my family and I had one of those inspiring writer epiphanies. You know when something inside you triggers and you’re prompted to write about it because it has new meaning to you? This was mine.
We had just finished ordering and as I was about to reach for my phone, I glimpsed around the room and I noticed that so many other people were fidgeting with their phones too. It was at that exact moment that I realized that this story needs to be told. This could be a great picture book.
This was not the first time lately that I had seen a group of people socializing while on their smartphones. My family alone had all become accustomed to doing this and we were doing it more frequently.
What was this phenomenon with smartphone behavior and why was I just noticing it?
Studies about this topic from 2015 indicate that “64% of American adults now owned a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the springof 2011."
So what’s the harm? Based on the research I did, my opinion is that it’s not so much that smartphones are harmful, but It’s more that when not used in balance, smartphones can become somewhat addictive.
Our fast-paced contemporary world depends on technology. In order to function more efficiently, I think we need our phones and other devices in our everyday lives for communication, education, and innovation. Most people come to rely on this valuable technology for essential work and leisure related activities and it’s difficult to imagine a world without it.
Statistics show that “For 2016, the number of smartphone users is forecast to reach 2.1 billion.”
We continue to spend a huge amount of time using our technological devices and a study done by Deloitte in 2015 reports that, “On average, people in the United States across all age groups check their phones 46 times per day, according to Deloitte. That’s up from 33 looks per day in 2014.”
The good news is that awareness about smartphone use is growing more widespread.
Research from a Harris Poll shows that “45 percent of Americans do attempt to disconnect themselves from technology at least once a week or more. 16 percent attempt to distance themselves from their cell phone, email or television every day. (However) Harris also found that 6 out of 10 people wish their family members would unplug from technology more often.”
With regards to personal development, family values, and social behavior, how will this growing issue relate to the next generation of adults and children? For kids, seeing everyone glued to their devices must create little space for basic interaction with the important people in their life.
According to Pew Research Center, “When it comes to the emotions that people experience as a result of having a smartphone, “productive” and “happy” lead the way — 79% …But 57% of smartphone owners reported feeling “distracted” thanks to their phone, and 36% reported that their phone made them feel “frustrated.”
I’m personally curious to see how these figures will affect the children of the future and their families. How do contemporary kids feel about excessive smartphone use?
Meet Emma…she’s the main character in my newly released picture book called Put Away Your Phone! Emma is the voice of kids and frustrated adults everywhere. She’s a hero in a little girl's body. Instead of a cape, she wears red overalls. She is smart, clever, humorous and just a little bit too impatient!
Join Emma in Put Away Your Phone! as she counts her way through the zoo and help her shout PUT AWAY YOUR PHONE! to all the grown-ups she sees.
Emma’s message is a relevant one that we can all pay more attention to. As our world becomes increasingly more reliant on technological devices, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a time for smartphones and a time to connect with the people (and animals) in your life!
Tracy Bryan is an award-winning Indie author. She writes whimsical books for kids ages 4-12. She just released her debut fiction picture book called Put Away Your Phone! with illustrator David Barrow. They are currently working on their next book together called Too Many Things! due to be out early 2017! Tracy writes a monthly personal Blog for adults on her website and one for kids aged 6-12 called The Awesomeness Blog. Follow her on Facebook , Twitter , Goodreads & Amazon. To learn more about Tracy or contact her, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website tracybryan.com