Hooked on Our Smartphones

The many men, women and children who spend their days glued to their smartphones and social media accounts might learn something from Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the groundbreaking megahit “Hamilton.” Asked in an interview with Delta Sky magazine when and where he finds time to be creative, Mr. Miranda, an avid reader of books and enthusiast for unfettered downtime, replied: “The good idea comes in the moment of rest. It comes in the shower. It comes when you’re doodling or playing trains with your son. ‘Hamilton’ forced me to double down on being awake to the inspirations of just living my life.”

Mr. Miranda’s observation bodes ill for the future, not just of creativity but also of healthy bodies, minds and relationships. No doubt you’ve seen the following scenarios, probably many times:

• Young couples out to dinner pull out their smartphones to check messages, emails and social networks even before scanning the menu, and check their phones repeatedly throughout the meal.

• Shoppers and commuters standing in line, people crossing busy streets, even cyclists and drivers whose eyes are on their phones instead of their surroundings.

• Toddlers in strollers playing with a digital device — a parent’s or perhaps even their own — instead of observing and learning from the world around them.

• People walking down the street with eyes on their phones, bumping into others, tripping over or crashing into obstacles.

The near-universal access to digital technology, starting at ever younger ages, is transforming modern society in ways that can have negative effects on physical and mental health, neurological development and personal relationships, not to mention safety on our roads and sidewalks.

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary