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Digital addiction Taking a break from your digital addiction

Virtual Reality, the Internet of Things, Wearables… New technologies are assisting us increasingly in our daily functioning. They make our life easier and help us gain time. However, we contribute that time to digital connections and increasingly less to our direct surroundings. People are addicted to their smartphone and indicate wanting to step away from the digital.


The first mobile phone of the Millennials was the Nokia 3210, one of the most popular mobile phones ever at 160 million sold devices. Generation Y is looking back with nostalgia to the time when a mobile phone only allowed you to ring, send a text message and play a game of Snake.

Nokia 3210

In ten years’ time, the mobile phone has gone through an enormous evolution. We currently all carry some sort of personal computer in our pockets, which connects us anywhere and anytime with the rest of the world. A smartphone makes our life much easier and more pleasant but we become so dependent on it! The numbers are clear: every day we check our smartphone 46 times on average. Think of the separate paths for smartphone users in Asia: with your eyes focused on a screen, you will walk slower, therefore you get a separate walkers lane.

Phone lane

When our smartphone vibrates, endorphin is freed up in our brains, which gives us a good feeling and that is why we get addicted so easily. The addiction to the smartphone was already picked up in psychological research. The phantom vibration syndrome makes us think our phone is vibrating, whereas it is not. We are so used to the continuous connectivity that we fear not having our smartphone on us, which is also referred to as Nomophobia. The term is a contraction of no mobile phobia. Psychologists are debating whether the addiction to a smartphone should be recognized as a mental illness. The smartphone turns into your world and almost an extension to your body.

The lonely side of social media

We can use the word addiction if whatever we are addicted to is taking over our daily activities, work performances and relationships. Funnily enough we know very well how to implement the smartphone as a tool to make our daily lives easier, but we ignore the influence it has on our lives. It sounds like a paradox, but the increased connectivity gives us the impression of being lonelier. Communication with others never was this easy, but is it really communication? Relationships are falling apart because we pay more attention to our smartphone than to the person right in front of us.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: The increased connectivity of #smartphones makes us lonelier insit.es/2ftWai4 by @HeleenPersoon via @CoolBrands #nextgen #paradox #geny

It also has to do with social pressure. On the one hand, we need to be up to speed: you need to be present on Facebook, for example, simply because everyone else is there. Millennials are talking online, are deciding online where they will meet, but also make a major part of their school work online. On the other hand, a lion share of self-identification is happening online these days. We create a certain image of ourselves, preferably that of a happy, intriguing and adventurous person. We are often more interesting on Facebook than in real life.

An 18-year-old Australian model recently confessed that her much-visited profiles on social media were fake. She was an Internet sensation and made money with her pictures on social media. But she was not all that happy, as she had to starve herself and often take on the most impossible poses to get to the right picture. Getting that perfect picture had become her main target in life. She also declared having been addicted to the confirmation of her looks which she obtained on social media.

A smartphone in diet version: the Light Phone

With their Light Phone, Joe Hollier and Kawai Tang want to offer the possibility to regain control of the way you want to converse with others. Joe Hollier is an artist who thinks it important to live the moment. Together with a smartphone developer he built the Light Phone starting from that idea. The Light Phone is destined for those moments on holiday or during sports where your WhatsApp messages and your mails are really not that urgent. You can only use it to make phone calls as that is the only connection that you can make with a mobile phone which people really need. It was designed to be used as little as possible.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: A #smartphone in diet version @thelightphone a durable disconnection tool insit.es/2ftWai4 by @HeleenPersoon via @CoolBrands #nxtgen #detech

The creators do not really think it’s a bad thing to connect online by smartphone, but they do believe it important to have a break once in a while and to fully disconnect and be more aware of our actual surroundings. So it’s not so much about banning the smartphone as it is about making it easier to break free from it without being entirely unreachable. The Light Phone lets you disconnect without missing out on that call from, for example, your pregnant sister.

So what is the difference between a basic mobile phone without Internet option, which is already available on the market? The Light Phone offers several advantages and reinvented the 10-year-old mobile phone. First of all, its design is minimalistic and slim. It is the size of a credit card but slightly thicker. You can stick the device in your wallet and forget you have it on you. It does not even have a screen, only a keyboard, a microphone, a micro USB connection, a volume button and a power button. The only configuration which can be adapted consists of ten speed dials.

The Light Phone

Secondly, in order to make the disconnection as user-friendly as possible, a Light Phone is controlled through your own smartphone. The slogan therefore is the phone away from phone. An application on your phone allows you to transfer contacts and, for example, indicate which numbers you would rather block. However, the device does work independently from your smartphone, so if you don’t have a smartphone, you can still buy a Light Phone; or if your smartphone’s battery has run out, you can use the Light Phone as back-up phone.

Next to that, the design is durable. A smartphone is known for being fragile and is often replaced after one year’s usage already. The Light Phone is timeless, so is promised by the creators. There is no screen which can crack, you don’t have to worry about the battery which lasts about 20 days without recharging. So you can take it on holiday without recharging it at all or fearing a cracked screen should it fall. The Light Phone works with a prepaid payment system. Not all details are available as such, but the tool would be supplied with 500 minutes of call credit which you can then recharge via the app or the website. The Light Phone only works if there are minutes available.

Hollier and Kawai declare that their invention could be a perfect solution as first mobile phone for children. They see it as the only way to disconnect without having to switch off your smartphone or activating its flight mode or opening up all your apps and deactivating the notifications. New wearables also promise you that you will gain time, but a Light Phone goes way beyond that. It allows you to stay focused for hours on end and to live in the moment, without being disturbed continuously. Research has proven that the concentration timespan of a Millennial is shorter because their smartphone is always vibrating.

The first Light Phone was launched last month. The creators also took part in the Google ’30-week incubator’. Hollier and Kawai gathered $415,127 via crowdfunding with Kickstarter with 3187 people backing up the project. The entire Light Phone development can be followed on their blog. They are very transparent in all decisions taken to get to the end product. At the end of this month the Light Phone is available for shipping, you can already pre-order it on their website. And finally, it is also affordable; for $100 you can buy a durable disconnection tool.

The Light Phone mainly seems interesting for travelers who prefer not to take along their smartphone for fear of damaging it. Usually on holiday you only need to make a call in case of an emergency and you would rather not have to worry about the battery life. The Light Phone seems the ideal solution in this scenario. But it is also a general answer to the disturbing conclusions that youngsters can no longer drag themselves away from their smartphone. It’s a user-friendly way to disconnect, without standing out too much. The launch of this wearable will put the spotlight on the smartphone addiction, which really is necessary. Youngsters can no longer focus for a longer timespan because they are distracted by their smartphone’s vibration at all times. The Light Phone will allow them to take a break, get away from the smartphone and live the moment again.

The Light Manifesto

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