10 Ways Mobile Phones Have Changed Our Lives

  • -Jeffrey- on www.flickr.comOverall, our phones make us happier. (There’s even an app for that.)
  • They may be making us more selfish, however. Our phones can fulfil our need for human contact, making us less inclined to go out of our way to help others.
  • These devices can distract us so much we don’t notice the world around us — even if it contains unicycling clowns. (To be fair, people may actually like us better when we are distracted during a conversation.) 
  • We’ve become so addicted to our phones that two-thirds of users report hearing “phantom ringing”.
  • We rely so much on these devices that a third of people under 30 can’t remember their home phone numbers — if they have one at all.
  • 5% of relationships were ended by text message. People even get divorced via text.
  • By stripping away the emotional information in faces and intonation, text messaging might be simulating autism.
  • Text message reminders have effectively encouraged saving, reduced smoking and increased voting.
  • Soon there will be more “booty texts” than “booty calls”. (iPhone users are more promiscuous, by the way.)
  • But what’s really mind-blowing is how much our phones know about us:

…By analysing changes in movement and communication patterns, researchers could also detect flu symptoms before the students themselves realised they were getting sick…

“We have always thought of individuals as being unpredictable,” said Johan Bollen, an expert in complex networks at Indiana University. “These regularities [in behaviour] allow systems to learn much more about us as individuals than we would care for.”

…After analysing more than 16 million records of call date, time and position, the researchers determined that, taken together, people’s movements appeared to follow a mathematical pattern. The scientists said that, with enough information about past movements, they could forecast someone’s future whereabouts with 93.6% accuracy.

The pattern held true whether people stayed close to home or traveled widely, and wasn’t affected by the phone user’s age or gender.


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