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Time Savers Or Time Wasters? Smartphones, Tablets Have Invaded Our Lives

Apple Introduces iPhone 5
(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES ( — With the announcement of yet another iPhone model soon to be on the market, experts say now is as good a time as any to start figuring out how much time you are willing to devote to the device.

That's because, buying a smartphone or tablet computer is not the end of the journey, but only the beginning.


Download news apps; search for updates to old apps; synch your smart phone with the cloud or your home PC (anyone still have one of these???); reset password codes; check system preferences. By now, we all know the drill.

Oh, and then, just when you are ready to call it a night, up pops an error box you've never seen before. Plan on nursing your new device to health , perhaps, throughout the night.

Some folks say they spend 20 hours a month or more just dealing with their growing array of portable computer devices. And, that doesn't include making an "emergency" trip to the nearby Geek Squad or Genius Bar when you awake in the morning only to find your smartphone or tablet gasping for air and you haven't a clue how to save its life.


In fact, says BJ Fogg, an experimental psychologist at Stanford University, these new devices "can take a lot of care and feeding."

The truth is, many experts say (and, if you are candid, you will probably agree from first hand experience), these devices - designed and often sold as big time savers, helping us do research, communicate with social contacts and shoot at angry birds - are also huge time wasters.


In fact, some experts say smartphones and tablets should be thought of as food - we are surrounded by a cornucopia of things to eat (and now, an information glut, too) and must learn how to ration our intake.


Research Psychologist Kelly McGonigal, author of the book "The Willpower Instinct," suggests setting an alarm on your smartphone just to tell you when to stop using it for the day!

One Northern California man interviewed, who preferred his name not be used, says before he acquired his various devices, he used to spend much more time doing things such as ocean diving, jogging and working on vehicles.

Now, he says, he "pretty much" spends his spare time attending his smartphone and MacBook.

Of course, there were concerns expressed when movies, radio and then television first were introduced. But, experts say, there is one fundamental difference: These media are all associated with place - a theater, home or automobile - whereas smartphones and tablet computers have become virtual appendages of our bodies and brains. They are always with us.

In fact, they ARE us!

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