Technological advances have us moving closer and closer to the future that Wall-E presented to us but if we act now, can we get ahead of it?
Smart home products are making us even more reliant on technology, as computers and smart phones did before them. The companies that produce this technology, including Apple, have recently responded to pressure and criticism against technological distractions, and the role their products play in tech addiction, with new features that seem to be counterproductive to their core business – but could be great for the general population at large.
Apple announced the new features at their annual conference – which is typically focused on how the latest and greatest developments from the company can help further integrate technology into our lives, not focused on how we can use their technology less.
Smart phones, in general, have become a big distraction at work, in social situations, and have even become dangerous as people use them while driving or walking. The iPhone is highly addictive, with all of the available time-wasting apps, games and communication features. While this is good for their brand, many claim that it is bad for our brains.
With that in mind, Apple is taking on an initiative to promote digital health, including improved ways for users to monitor and track time spent within apps and on the phone, and even to temporarily deactivate notifications from the phone and apps. These features will be available on iPhones and iPads.
One of the biggest concerns regarding our addiction to technology is how kids are using it. Apple’s new technology limitation features also include a way for parents to remotely monitor and control their children’s access to the content on their phones.
Apple calls the feature “Screen Time,” and seems to support the idea of everyone using their gadgets a little less. At the same time, however, they also released several new features that will only make people depend more on their phones for things like staying in touch, managing their schedules, and entertaining themselves. Apple has put a focus on development of augmented reality apps, which, as an emerging technology, is something that people will want and need to spend time using as they explore capabilities.
Google has also recently implemented some features focused on tracking smart phone use and prompting people to “take a break.”
Even if we start to limit the amount of time we spend with our screened gadgets, more and more technology is available that allows us to be screen- and hands-free; so the root of the technological addition problem isn’t really being solved. We might not be looking at our cell phones as much, and our kids might not be screen-addicted, but we’re still completely immersed in technology: from education to personal transportation to time and money management. It’s more like our technology addicts will just shift from one medium to another. Before we know it, our smart home assistants will have a “snooze” feature – and hopefully a sassy reply when we try to use them despite the snooze setting.