Fight iPhone and Android smartphone device addiction

Will socially responsible investing help to curb the growing addiction to smartphone devices like the Apple iPhone, Google Android and Samsung Galaxy?

Group of millennials sitting with mobile devices in a row
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Suddenly, we are having a debate on device addiction of smartphones like Apple iPhone and Google Android. I have written about this many times over the last decade. This impacts everyone, from the enterprise to users and needs to have a higher profile. We need to find solutions to this growing problem. It’s good to see that we are finally discussing this important point.

Addiction is a disease, and addiction to electronics like the iPhone and Android smartphones is new, but is impacting our entire society. Just think of all the people you see every day with their faces plastered to the screen of their smartphone.

There are two sides to this problem. One side is bad, but surprisingly, the other side is good. We have begun this new conversation with the Apple iPhone. I think it will only spread over time. I think we should expect it to ultimately include every smartphone and then every electronic device that is habit forming. It will even spread to apps of which many people are addicted.

Socially responsible investing to fight smartphone addiction

This conversation began with protecting our kids from this addictive behavior. While that’s very important, don’t ignore the fact that it’s not only our kids who are at risk. So is every user of every age. Yes, that means you and me. Just a quick look around us and all we see is people with their faces buried into the screen of their smartphone.

The good part of this story is the investor angle. The typical investment perspective is not bothered by getting the user hooked. Historically, they are only interested in making money. So, many investors love the idea from a purely money-making angle.

However, even investors themselves, and their family and friends suffer from device addiction. We have spent time and energy creating addictive technology and games thinking it was a great way to build a business. This is the core of the problem. It has grown beyond the investor and has become a real and growing problem to our society.

Should Starbucks create non-addictive coffee?

So, must we create non-addictive technology? Sounds logical, but what about other addictive industries. Should we say Starbucks must create non-addictive coffee? Many people come back several times a day for their caffeine fix.

So, there are two questions. Can it be done? If so, should it be done? These are the questions we are now starting to wrestle with.

That’s why socially responsible investing is really gaining in popularity. These investors want to make money, while at the same time they don’t want to harm society. Some companies take their social responsibility seriously. Apple is one of the leaders. Others don’t. But even with social responsible companies like Apple, there are still addiction problems that need to be addressed and solved.

We see it every day. Walking around we see people buried into their smartphone screens. They are not involved with the community. Not talking with others. Even when they are interacting with others, like at the cashier in their local grocery store, they are someplace else.

This checking-out problem is much wider than that. People are glued to their devices. They are checking their social networks, watching television, shopping and doing countless other things on their smartphones. The problem is they have checked-out and are not interacting with others around them.

Does Alcoholics Anonymous need to include device addiction?

This has a negative impact on our society and on the individual. Device addiction is becoming as big a problem as drug and alcohol abuse. If we continue down this path, I can see a point where Alcoholics Anonymous or AA will have to start a smartphone abuse support program. No kidding. And this journey will expand to eventually include every smartphone maker, every tablet maker and every electronic device maker over time.

Socially responsible investing will continue to become an important catch phrase going forward. The human being often has abuse problems. Sometimes we know about them. Other times we don’t recognize it, but most of us have symptoms when we do something too often and don’t feel right unless we are.

How device addiction is like alcohol and drug addiction

There are many forms of addiction. Many of us are workaholics, sexaholics and so on. Some of us know it and others don’t. There are so many of us who suffer from one addiction or another. Whether you know it or not, so do you. And it has always been that way. It’s just that today we give each a name and talk about it rather than hide it from the public in shame. 

The good news is we are now talking about this growing problem. Apple is a good company to start with They have always cared about their users. The problem is even though they care, it has not protected their users from this addictive behavior. So, they need to do more. Addiction can build a business, like Starbucks. But smartphone addiction impedes on our business and personal lives. There must be a balance.

Who knows exactly where this conversation will lead. Let’s hope it will improve things for all of us. I am just glad it is now finally getting on everyone’s radar. Talking about it and thinking about it is the first step to solving this addictive device problem.


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