It is becoming increasingly difficult to find someone who doesn’t own a smarthpone these days, especially among younger generations. Their rapid advent left a number of people stunned with the speed with which they developed from typical cell phones into something that is able to almost completely replace an average PC. There is no question that they are a marvelous piece of technology which is making our lives easier, but there are some downsides to the widespread use of these devices as well. We’ll try to analyze both their advantages and the harm that they are doing.

For a while now, a debate has been raging about whether smartphones are bringing us closer together, or are they alienating us and driving us further apart from our fellow human beings. As is usually the case in such instances, both sides of the argument have valid points. Smartphones are allowing us to reach one another wherever we are, not only with phone call, but also via email, instant messages, SMS, and a number of other means. When you takedifferent social networks that you can access with your phone into account, it really seems that they have brought us closer together than we have ever been.

However, this kind of socializing still can’t come close to regular personal contact, which we are often neglecting because of the electronic means of communication. Some argue that communicating through the screen of our phones and PCs is making us desensitized and slow to empathize with the people we are talking to. If you consider the anonymity which usually also goes with this type of communication, and the effect that it is having on the way that we interact with other people, it really may seem as if constantly approaching people through these means can develop some unhealthy habits.

Then there’s the issue of constantly having the largest encyclopedia ever conceived at the tips of your fingers. While being able to check up just about anything online at any time is an amazing thing and has done a lot to expand our minds and make people more familiar with the world they are inhabiting, it also has a downside. Basically, the easier a piece of information is to reach, the less value it seems to hold. Knowing that they can easily find everything they need to know, people seem to have stopped bothering with actually memorizing the information. Internet seems to be turning into a collective brain storing incredible amounts of information, but forcing us to access it every time we may actually want to use that information. Depending on your outlook on life, this creates some pretty utopian or dystopian possible scenarios for our future.

Finally, apart from bringing us closer to information we need, smartphones are also an amazing source of entertainment. You’ll find people everywhere cutting their bus drive short with a game or a movie, which can seem like a straight up benefit, but once again brings us back to the question of alienation from people around us. However, regardless of what you think of them, smartphones are definitely here to stay, in one form or another, and the only thing that we can do is get used to them.

Author: Marta De Angelis, italian journalist and blogger in the mobile phone sector, editor and writer for web store MobilniShop.