top of page

From the Vault-Face off: Are smartphones making us dumber?

9 Jun, 2015 Face off: Are Smartphones making us dumber? (Face Off column, SCMP)

Helen Wong, 15, Dallam School, UK

Smartphones can do almost anything these days, so it's not surprising that people have lost the ability to perform tasks manually. The autocorrect function makes daily tasks such as texting and googling easier. But it also means people don't need to remember how to spell or use punctuation properly.

Smartphones are "smart" as they can tailor information for users. Their user-friendliness, such as giving shortened news excerpts, means many people are unable or unwilling to read chunks of longer text. We no longer need maps. People use GPS when they travel to a new place. The invention of emojis means we don't need to use words as often. Our word bank has been reduced to pictures and short messages. As a result, words like "cool" and "nice" have become virtually all that we know. All these examples show how our over-reliance on our phones has reduced our ability to complete basic tasks ourselves. Worse still, people no longer live in the moment. Whenever something amazing happens, people get out their phones and take a picture. Others miss it, because they're too busy checking their phones, looking at Facebook and texting their friends. They are unaware of the world around them. Many car accidents happen because people can't take their eyes away from their phone for a few seconds to look at the road. More and more, people's values and identities are defined by their phones. They feel lost without them. They feel insecure and naked if they don't have them to hand. We've all seen this scene: in a restaurant, you see a group of friends sitting at a table but all looking at their phones. Smartphones have made us forget how to talk. They make us anxious when we talk to others. Our phones are our comfort zones and our identities are hidden behind the masks of our phones. The widespread selfie culture also means that people are becoming increasingly self-absorbed. People see selfies as a way to gain popularity. People measure their success by how many "likes" a photo gets. In this technological era, there is no denying that life has become more complex. But as human beings, we have become dumber as our smartphones have simplified life for us.

Originally published:


bottom of page