Planting seeds of change

Encouraging people to put down their smartphones

Matthew Bardsley shows us how he is consumed by technology and social media on Thursday, March 3, 2016. (Photo by Tyler Marr)

Matthew Bardsley shows us how he is consumed by technology and social media on Thursday, March 3, 2016. (Photo by Tyler Marr)

Electronics have become an enormous part of our lives. Many of us can’t seem to go a day without using our cellphone, tablet or computer.

From our personal lives to our working habits, digital technology has completely changed the way we live. But have we become unbalanced?  Are we slaves to our electronic devices?

Cole Degenstein, a first-year student at ACAD, disagrees with the claim. He thinks people are being overdramatic when it comes to how and when to use their phones.

“It’s a means of communication and documentation of moments, nice things and happy memories, and it bugs me that people think it’s an issue,” said Degenstein.

“While there are certain cases where people literally cannot put their phone down, I don’t think there is a problem for our generation as a whole.”

For Degenstein, it’s not a difficult task to hold a conversation with someone in real life while texting someone else. The world doesn’t stop just because he’s on his phone.

But for some people, the act of multi-tasking is next to impossible. Luckily there is now an app to help you put your phone down from time to time.

Forest, available on both iPhone and Android devices, helps you stay focused on your work and motivates you to keep off your smartphone. You plant a seed in the app whenever you want to concentrate, and within the next half hour, the seed grows into a tree. However, if you get distracted with something else on the phone and leave the app, the little tree will die.

Mika Kaye, a barista at Higher Ground Café in Kensington, likes the concept behind the motivational app.

“It’s great for people who need to use their phone less,” said Kaye.

“That being said, it seems even though this app for your smartphone is motivating you to concentrate on something else, you’re still running this app on your phone, which means you are still using an electronic device.”

However, a new trend is emerging. There are a few restaurants in the United States that offer discounts or free desserts for people who put their gadgets away for the entire duration of the meal.

“I think a lot of people can’t imagine being without their phone, and it’s a problem because [electronics] never truly allow a person to relax and enjoy life,” said Sarah Lapietra, who also works at Higher Ground Café.

“I’ve seen a couple on a date before and all they are doing is sitting on their phones,” said Lapietra.

According to her, people need to learn to live in the moment when they can.

“A good way might be to bring the concept of rewarding customers for being social to restaurants and cafés in Calgary.”

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