How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life

Dave Parrack 08-01-2014

Smartphones are here to stay. These miniature computers we all carry around in our pockets all day, every day are now outselling feature phones, meaning new smartphone owners are being created all the time.


This is good news for Apple, Google, Samsung, HTC, and all the other companies making money from smartphones. But it may not be so good for the human race as a whole, or individual smartphone owners. Yes, I’m talking about you, the person currently reading this article while sat on a bus.

Having already detailed several reasons why you shouldn’t buy a smartphone 5 Reasons Not To Buy A Smartphone You may feel pressured into buying a smartphone, even though you're perfectly happy with your (so-called) dumbphone. Don't be. Read More in the first place, it’s time to plead with those of you who have already succumbed to the lure of this magical technology. Your smartphone could be ruining your life, or at least have the capacity to do so in the future.

Harming Human Relationships

How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life smartphone phubbing bar

Your smartphone may be capable of connecting you to the whole world via email, messaging services, social networks, and the wider Web, but it’s also capable of disconnecting you to those people around you.

Phubbing (phone snubbing) is a serious issue, with couples choosing to spend their time together staring at their phones rather than interacting with each other. This is merely the thin end of a very large wedge that could harm our ability to connect and communicate with other people face-to-face.


Fix: Don’t choose your smartphone over real-life interactions.

Living Life Through A Lense

How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life smartphone photography

Most smartphones possess good cameras, leading to many people ditching their expensive DSLRs in order to concentrate on experimenting with smartphone photography Top Tips: How To Take Great Photos With Your Smartphone Smartphone and mobile photography are becoming increasingly popular. And no wonder. Every year, mobile and smartphone cameras get better and better, until many people don’t feel the need to carry real cameras around anymore. While... Read More . Having a capable camera with you at all times makes it very hard to resist taking pictures at every opportunity, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

The problem comes when people live their life from behind their smartphone, which is permanently glued to the end of their fingers ready to take photos. Photos make nice keepsakes to remember an occasion by, but eschewing the actual experience to get the best shots is a hiding to nothing.


Fix: Remember that photos aren’t as important as the experience itself.

Dominating Your Free Time

How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life smartphone boredom

Smartphones are extremely versatile gadgets, offering endless opportunities to use your time up, whether productively or wastefully. While it’s hard to see a downside to this, there is one that could lead to you living a less-fulfilling life.

If you let your smartphone dominate your free time to the exclusion of all other interests and hobbies then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Is playing Angry Birds 5 Reasons Angry Birds Is So Damn Addictive My name is Dave Parrack, I'm a 34-year-old freelance writer from England, and I have a problem. I'm addicted to playing Angry Birds. Being hooked on catapulting feathered weapons of mass destruction into smug pigs... Read More really better than reading a book? Is tweeting all about your life The Five Most Annoying Things People Do On Twitter Twitter also has a darker side. It is filled with annoying idiots who seem to tweet for the sole purpose of making everyone who has the misfortune of meeting them annoyed. These are the places... Read More better than eating out at a restaurant? Is surfing pointless websites 10 Peculiarly Pointless Websites That Exist For No Reason We here at MakeUseOf specialize in directing our readers to websites they can make use of, hence the name. But that means we’re all missing out on a vast number of peculiarly pointless websites that... Read More for hours on end better than learning to speak another language?


Fix: Don’t give up other hobbies to spend more time on your smartphone.

Encouraging Oversharing

How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life smartphone oversharing

The holy trinity of smartphones, the Internet, and social networking have led to many people overdoing it when it comes to sharing details of their lives Some Things Should Remain Private: What Not To Share On Facebook Ah, Facebook. The grandfather of all social networks, where we all share all sorts of weird things without a second thought. Despite its horrible reputation when it comes to privacy, Facebook still manages to lull... Read More . But smartphones are, I believe, the biggest cause of this trend of oversharing.

Smartphones mean you can share details about your life whenever and wherever the fancy takes you. You can tell people what you’re doing, where you’re doing it, and who you’re doing it with. You can upload photos or video. You can provide a running commentary that includes the most banal details. Which is all well and good until you bore your nearest and dearest with these pointless updates.


Fix: Pick and choose what you share with the wider world.

Getting Away From It All

How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life smartphone addiction

In the days when desktop computers ruled the roost you had no option but to leave the digital realm behind whenever you left the house. Notebooks and netbooks added a mobile element, but most people still knew when to shut the lid and bid the online world goodbye. Now, that no longer happens.

Smartphones mean that wherever you are in the world, you have the capacity to head online and converse with people. Or do some work. Or read email. Or play some games. Making it insanely tough to disconnect and get away from it all, even for short periods at a time.

Fix: Switch off your smartphone and escape the digital realm once in a while.

Relying On Technology

How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life smartphone reliance

While we should all welcome advances in technology when they occur, there is a danger associated with letting this technology do everything for us. Which is that we forget how to do even the most basic tasks for ourselves.

Smartphones can be used to do all kinds of different things, from simple arithmetic to planning a trip Be Your Own Travel Guide: 7 Tips To Travel Smarter With Google Maps Going on a trip can be such a stressful experience. But, let's walk you through the ways you can use Google Maps to plan every aspect of your next big trip. Read More , from fixing typos Why Typos Always Matter, Even Online & In Text Messages [Opinion] We all make mistakes from time to time. It's natural, a part of life, a learning curve which we use to better ourselves. Typos are no exception. They happen often, and if writing forms a... Read More to waking us up in the morning. These are all things we used to be able to do but which we’re now losing the ability (and need) to do. Which isn’t good for the longterm health of the human race.

Fix: Don’t turn to your smartphone before trying to do something for yourself.


This is a light-hearted piece with a serious message at its core. You may think criticism of new technology means being a luddite, but this isn’t the case. It’s more about being aware of how you use this technology and how that can affect your life for both better and worse.

All of these reasons your smartphone may be ruining your life, and the fixes that accompany them, are about people, whether you as an individual or the family and friends you share your life with. Is there anything more important than people?

And there endeth the lesson for today.

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  1. Daniel Halenko
    December 6, 2015 at 12:16 am

    Absolutely great, nicely written and to the point.
    Is it wrong for me to share this? hmmm, no, because its not just mindless share content.
    I think this article epsecially sharing and encouraging sharing also links in with the amount of general crap content that is online these days. People writing for writing sakes to create content.

  2. Randy
    May 10, 2015 at 12:50 am

    I also have to thank you for allowing comments without creating an account. I'm so tired of having to create millions of accounts to just look at something. Much appreciated.

  3. Randy
    May 10, 2015 at 12:49 am

    I just recently went to a restaurant with a friend an we BOTH have smartphones and had them with us. However, neither of us had them out or even used them while we were there. What was the need? We were face to face. We did consider using them to text because the noise was so unreal, but chose to just talk louder. Across from us was a couple and both of them had their phones out and were using them. When their meals came I was tempted to snap a picture (but chose not to) when I saw them eating with one hand and using their phones in the other. Talk about ruined lives. What is wrong with people?

  4. Timothy
    April 29, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    I'm doing a research paper in college on this same thing and I agree with all of it. I would like to us some of this in my paper, with giving you the credit of course. Thank you for writing.

  5. M in USA
    February 2, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    A smartphone is no different than putting a large desktop computer and monitor in your lap so that you can see what is happening to everybody else instead of what is going on with the people in front of you.

    I need a calculator to compute the number of times I would say something only for the phone person to either ignore me or say what. It seems like an infinite number of times my daughter would say mom and have to repeat it 4 or 5 times before getting a response.

    In my eyes, if you are constantly on your phone, you are disrespectful to the people around you. You put the other person above the person standing in front of you.

    I have grown to hate and detest smartphones because it has ruined my marriage.

    • Chicken_Hands
      December 7, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      "I have grown to hate and detest smartphones because it has ruined my marriage."

      I'm curious about how that ruined your marriage.

  6. Naomi
    January 14, 2015 at 9:52 am

    well said

    finally someone has some common-sense

  7. Steve S
    April 25, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Watching the legions of those brain-dead, lobotomized zombies disgusts me!
    Try asking any of these pathetic wretches a simple question about ANYTHING, and you'll quickly come to realize how stupid these punks are!

  8. a
    January 27, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    I totally agree with your article and I am not making up an excuse however what is one to do when they are required to carry one for work purposes? It seems that if you don't carry a smartphone you are at a disadvantage and even discriminated against.

  9. Guest
    January 24, 2014 at 5:52 am

    I don't have a cell phone either. But I also tend to shun people and be a recluse. Emily Dickinson and J.D. Salinger didn't have cell phones, obviously. Just shows to go ya that you can be cynical about and avoidant of the human race without dumbphones getting involved -- plenty of people have, and plenty more will.

    After all, Teddy K. Luddite wasn't much of an Internet fan either. ;-)

  10. Gnarly Sharley Marley
    January 21, 2014 at 2:01 am

    I liked your article a lot. I've only recently fallen victim to the smartphone. Thanks to it worming it's way into my life, via my teenagers. I've pretty much committed each of those acts, and I have only had my smart phone for less than four months. I must say, though, that it's easier to do small tasks, like check a weather forecast, than plugging in a PC just to do it. Yes

  11. hamid
    January 20, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    I love technology and pay it price

  12. Shaan
    January 19, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Nope what u wrote(writer) wont and will not Damage Human's life in any ways.... Coz Human are aware of the consequences.....

    I think It wont...... Making maximum use of Smartphone doesnt mean we are using them as Robots.... we are playing games when we get Free time(for entertainment) and we make use of usual features of phone.... THat doesnt mean in any ways... we are over using it.... .so it wont affect us.

  13. Daniel E
    January 16, 2014 at 10:05 am

    If we didn't have smartphones, it would be something else. Heck, even basic feature phones can send and receive Facebook or Twitter updates via SMS — depending on the carrier

  14. dragonmouth
    January 12, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Just like guns do not kill people but people kill people, smartphones do not ruin our lives, we ruin our own lives.

    Another way in which smartphones ruin our lives is that they can be used as RFID devices to keep tracks of us.

  15. Steve
    January 12, 2014 at 11:52 am

    All addictions are ruining your life but as always humans are to blame and not the object of their addiction. Just saying.

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      Of course it always comes down to our shortcomings as humans rather than the tools at our disposal. If you read the article all the way through I think you'll see I came to the same conclusion.

  16. Zahid Pervaiz
    January 9, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Really a nice article.

  17. Suleiman
    January 9, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    @Dave, 1st of all, Happy New Year to you and all. You are so courageous to write this article while you are a tech guru yourself :) This time your article is talking about me, the dude who is rocking his Samsung Galaxy Note 3 everywhere and anytime. The technology is great but the way we use it and how we totally depend on it is bad and scary sometimes. Once my friends called me and ask me to join them for coffee and I declined. When I was asked that why I preferred to stay home alone instead of joining them, my instant response was, " I am not alone, the world is under my finger tips, i am interacting with many people worldwide in the comfort of my home and not just few people in a coffee place". Ma Bad!
    Recently we had ice storm in my area and I lost power in my place for two day and the phone network was out as well. The thing is that i was not mad because i didn't have heat in my place to warm me up or the fact that I can't fix a cup of tea, but i was furious because i couldn't use my smart phone. It hit me hard then to realize how much I was hooked up to my smart phone. But in those two days something magical happened, something woderful ( read it using Dave Bowman voice from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey ) , I met my friends two day in a row and had awesome talks face to face!
    So lets not hate the technology, hate the user :) It is strange and sad to see myself to get back on it once again. I made a promise to myself to meet my friends regularly (actually i was warned by them) and leave my smart phone at home .......ok.... i am kidding now :)
    Well, here you go @Dave, I am supporting your article with a real incident and unfortunately I will be using my smart phone vigorously and viciously as usual.
    Thanks for your great posting, as usual.

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Suleiman.

      You are correct, of course, that it's down to how people use the technology rather than the technology itself. The problem is until people are reminded that they're letting this undoubtedly brilliant tech ruin their lives most will continue on falling into the same traps.

      Perhaps I'll tackle how to wean yourself off technology in a future article.

  18. dragonmouth
    January 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Too late, Dave. They have taken over.

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      No! I refuse to admit defeat.

    • dragonmouth
      January 12, 2014 at 6:21 pm

      The Nile is not just a river in Egypt. :-)

  19. pac
    January 9, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    "And there endeth the lesson for today." And what a lesson, thanks! ;) You see, my old mobile is able to send also some SMSs! Wow! [I'll have a smartphone when they'll stop to make the old ones and shall have no choice]

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      You'll still have a choice... to become part of the problem or to just stop using phones altogether.

      I'm so glad no one took the end line the wrong way. I was mocking myself for being a little preachy throughout the article :)

  20. Sidh
    January 9, 2014 at 11:34 am

    I agree to article. Indeed smartphone are part of our modern life. but doesn't mean we should over use it. limit it use to some extend can be more productivity... Right now phone are becoming smart and people are getting more dumb.

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      As phones become smarter, so humans become dumber. Sad but true.

  21. Angela A
    January 9, 2014 at 9:54 am

    I watched a great movie about smartphone over-use on my phone the other day. You should totally embed this in your post "I Forgot My Phone"

    • Lamees A
      January 9, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      watching that movie on your phone is kinda ironic

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      What a great video. It demonstrates the problem perfectly.

      As Lamees said, it's ironic you watched it on your phone though! :)

    • Angela A
      February 15, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      Ad yes, I know it's ironic that I watched it on my phone. That's why I bothered to mention it. :)

  22. Joel Pinto
    January 9, 2014 at 9:22 am

    I have to agree 100% with all your statements. It's so real and so sad at the same time. A while ago my wife didn´t have a phone smart enough to handle whatsapp, but now she does and it's amazingly sad how deeply she's been captured by such application.

    I have friends that even choose to whatsapp-me instead on picking up the phone. What's happening to all of us? There must be a limit and a balance to all this.

    Technology is wonderful, but when used this way, it only becomes a nightmare.

    [Broken URL Removed]

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      Finding the balance is absolutely spot on. I'm not saying ban smartphones or anything like that, but as individuals we need to learn how to use them to our advantage without letting them dominate.

  23. Thor
    January 9, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Read Aldous Huxley's "A Brave new World". Then re-assess your life. Then, re-read the book. Then re-re-assess your life.

    End result should be that the internet, smartphones and media consumption should decrease - that or you're amerifat. :)

    • Angela A
      January 9, 2014 at 9:52 am

      Good plan. :)

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      I'm already of the mindset that we're consuming too much, but I have to admit I've never had the pleasure of reading that book. I may do now though :)

  24. Victor O
    January 9, 2014 at 4:58 am

    Yep. It's actually been studied that people who take pictures of a certain event remember it LESS well than those who just looked and enjoyed with their eyes.

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      I can well believe that. They're probably too aware that they can just look at photos at a later date to remind themselves of how it was. Sad.

  25. williamworlde
    January 9, 2014 at 4:03 am

    I see couples sitting all the time at restaurants on their respective smartphones! I provide technical support for a living; I am very aware of the hazards of technology. Facebook is in my past for over a year. It *really* isn't that important! I've got a life too; I don't need to know every detail of yours! Really. This may sound alarmist, but we are going to hell in a handbasket being guided by very astute marketers making a lot of money for their masters. I am neither that old nor that young, but I am seeing the "stupidification" of people like never before! I am not doomed, but surely my child and offspring are.

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Smartphones alone aren't dooming the human race, but they're a sign that we're moving the wrong way in terms of relationships and interacting with each other. That's not good for individual communities or society as a whole.

  26. Mark M
    January 9, 2014 at 2:56 am

    According to a recent study done & it's results printed in TechNewsDaily, there IS such a thing as "smartphone addiction" . You can do a search for it as well, maybe you will (or will not agree) with the reports but it's worth taking a look at.
    The study cites several dysfunctions that are a result of this addiction, from sleep deprivation, to fatigue, to lack of eye contact...
    I'm with Dave on this one...

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      Man, I didn't even touch on those real problems associated with smartphones (or an over-reliance on tech in all its forms). There may be another article on this subject in the future :)

  27. Kevin M
    January 9, 2014 at 2:07 am

    Its new, its cool, its a status symbol but as over rated as they are they are not ruining life except to those that have something negative to say about everything. Also to say a smart phone is a miniature computer is just retarded thinking. Obviously you do not own a computer because if you did you would see how ridiculous saying that sounds.

    • Tim
      January 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      It... is a miniature computer, it has a CPU, ram, graphics processing and storage - ie. a computer

    • Daniel V
      January 10, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Really?! Umm....see Tim's comment below.

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      I stand by my description, Kevin :)

      These are ways a smartphone could ruin your life in some real way. Of course it's up to you as an individual as to whether it happens or not.

  28. Len
    January 9, 2014 at 1:50 am

    I use a ' burn phone , ' ten bucks a month , no extras , no camera , always off when I am anywhere other than at work. I live my life as it is meant to be lived .

    • bob
      January 9, 2014 at 11:20 am

      Right on, bro! (Unfortunately, everyone around you disagrees, sometimes impinging on our lives.)

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 3:38 pm

      Good for you. I hope you simply smile to yourself when you see people falling into any of the traps associated with smartphone ownership.

    • dragonmouth
      January 12, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      I see you a "burn phone" and raise you a "no cell phone at all"! That's how life was meant to be lived. :P

  29. Daniel
    January 8, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    I don't have a smartphone. Jokes on you :p

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      Damn, you found the flaw in this article.

  30. Tim
    January 8, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Spot on! The human race is doomed!

    • Dave P
      January 12, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      Well, I wouldn't go that far!