Smartphones and Summer Trips

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I’m planning a trip with some of my friends here. We’re going to go to New York City this summer! It’s going to be mostly about sightseeing. And that’s why I’m considering a drastic proposal: I think we should all put away our smartphones during the trip. Obviously, there would be an exception for emergencies and stuff like that. But I think this would be a good way to avoid having everyone stare at their phones instead of at the buildings and other sights of New York City. Experts, what do you think?


Smartphones are incredibly useful tools, but there’s no denying that they also cause us to make some questionable decisions. It’s easy to become absorbed in our screens and miss the world around us. You clearly understand this already, but the statistics may surprise you nonetheless: more than three-quarters of adults own a smartphone, and those smartphone users touch their phones a staggering 2,617 times a day on average as they swipe, tap, and drag their way through their favorite must-have apps. And, most frighteningly, this may not en entirely voluntary. Half of all teens say they think they’re “addicted” to their mobile devices, and some researchers believe that those teens are telling the truth: it may be possible to become addicted to your smartphone!


So does that mean that your smartphones are destined to ruin your vacation unless you lay down the law? Not necessarily. It’s important to remember that smartphones are addictive for a reason: they’re incredibly useful tools that put a wealth of information at our fingertips. Smartphones can be a huge asset to vacationers. They can help you book lodging, plan itineraries, and schedule activities while you’re on the go. The trick, of course, is balancing the usefulness of smartphones with their potential for absorbing your attention at unfortunate times.


So what can you do? Your idea of setting a “policy” may be a good one, despite the fact that your proposal is a bit strict. You may want to reinterpret your smartphone rules in order to focus on hiding screens when you should most be looking around. Guides who give Central Park tours recommend putting your phone away for the duration of specific vacation events (don’t forget to silence it–you may even want to just turn it off). Ban phones while you’re on tours or at the museum, or limit phone use to certain times–in the evenings, for instance, when you may be working on planning the next day of your big trip.


You can also take steps to limit your smartphone obsessions in general, which could help curb the type of toxic use that would draw your attention from the joys of your vacation. You could take a hard look at your phone’s notification settings with the goal of limiting how often it buzzes, rings, or lights up–all things that are likely to make you check the device. Experts also recommend moving distracting apps off of your home screen. These are good solutions because they address the root of the problem you’re facing, rather than simply masking that problem while you’re on vacation.


Chatting with your friends about how to handle smartphones on your vacation is a good idea, and we wish you luck. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find a solution that keeps your smartphones useful on your trip without allowing them to cause unnecessary distractions.


Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed. – Coreta Kent