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Smartphone, Attractive but Dangerous"Kakao Tlk or e-mail alarm makes people use smartphones endlessly. This 'push' function forces users to keep updating information and checking news."

 

   
 
  Dongguk students are not chatting each other but pay attention to their smart phones at the 'Vonie cafe.'  
 
Several people gather together at cafeteria. They face each other and drink coffee. However, there is a complete lack of face-to face communication. They pay attention only to their smartphones, not to their friends. Some of them even send texts to their friends sitting right next to them. This situation is not unusual due to the fast spread of smartphones. Last year, over 20 million people had smartphone and it is estimated that the number of smartphone users will exceed 35 million at the end of this year. Nearly 40% of population use smartphone. As the number of smartphone users increases, smartphone addiction is becoming a new worrisome problem.

 

In a survey of 100 students at Dongguk University, about 50% of the students use their smartphones more than five hours a day and 68% rated themselves as being addicted to their phones. The main purpose of the students’ smartphone use was to chat with friends, play games and read news. 70% of the surveyed students feel anxious when their phone’s battery is running out or when they cannot update applications. Moreover, 77% of the students answered that their smartphones caused distraction when they study or work. 16% reported that they had experienced fraud related to smartphone, such as fake application (which secretly takes user’s money or private information). This survey shows that most of the students are spending a lot of their time using smartphones and are likely to be addicted to it. Um Na-rae, a researcher at the media addiction department of National Information Society Agency, said, “Kakaotalk or e-mail alarm makes people use smartphones endlessly. This ‘push’ function forces users to keep updating information and checking news.” Smartphone addiction harms work efficiency and often accompanies SNS addiction. It also threatens physical health and some people even become isolated from society because of their addiction.

 

One of the smartphone addiction’s symptoms is a lack of concentration. Smartphone provides free messengers such as Kakaotalk and various kinds of applications. Those applications are useful and fun, but also have side effects. Before the invention of smartphone, people used text messages which cost 22 won per one message. However, mobile messengers now enable people to send free messages wherever they can get Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) access. Without the burden of cost, people keep sending messages even if they have tasks to do or have no urgent matters to talk about. Kim Hee-sun, a student of Dongguk, said “Few days before mid-term, I went to the central library to study. However, I started to chat with my friends through Kakaotalk and could not study at all.” There are also lots of game applications. Since smartphones are always with users, smartphone game addiction is more dangerous than computer game addiction. Kim Dong-hyun, a student of Dongguk, said “When I play ‘angry bird’ with my iPhone, I cannot stop it. I play the game in subway, classrooms, cafeteria and even my bed. I often play games in my class and miss lecture. iPhone is easy to grab and I can play all day if I want to.” As the interviews of these two students show, the overuse of smartphones can decrease concentration and cause poor efficiency with studies.

 

Smartphone addiction can also lead to an SNS addiction which is also called ‘cyber life obsession.’ SNS addiction means that one is obsessed with it and wants to form an ideal SNS image of oneself. It is different from game addiction which makes addicts to escape from reality. SNS addiction comes from the joy of interaction with others. SNS addicts post on Facebook or twitter to be recognized as a ‘nice person’ and keep reading timelines to come up with new information about others. 77% of Dongguk students who were surveyed about smartphone use answered that they often check facebook or twitter without specific purpose. Professor Lee Sang-ho and researcher Goh Ah-ra of Gyungsung University wrote a paper titled ‘Social and personal values’ impact on SNS addiction’. Lee and Goh explained that SNS addicts expose themselves in Facebook to increase self-esteem and interact with others to fulfill their need of relationships. When they feel misunderstood or cannot get others’ recognition as expected, SNS addicts react aggressively. They easily get angry to the person who broke their ideal cyber life. In Sherry Turkle’s book, “Alone together”, Turkle introduces her interviewee Brad, who is addicted to SNS: “Brad says, only half jokingly, that he worries about getting ‘confused’ between what he ‘composes’ for his online life and who he ‘really’ is. Not yet confident in his own identity, it makes him anxious to post things about himself that he doesn’t really know to be true. It burdens him that the things he says online affect how people treat him in the real world. People already relate to him based on things he has said on Facebook. Brad struggles to be more ‘himself’ there, but this is hard. He says that even when he tries to be ‘honest’ on Facebook, he cannot resist the temptation to use the site ‘to make the right impression.’ ” SNS is an effective way to share one’s thoughts and daily life. It also helps people to get information easily and quickly. However, when it is excessively used, it has serious consequences.  

 

 

   
 
   
 
Next, there are people who try to communicate with others only through their smart phone. But in reality, they feel alone, like they are living on an isolated island. These people are called “a group of Smart Island.” These people usually said that conversation using smart phone is much easier and more comfortable than talking face-to-face. So when they meet people in person, they only pay attention to their smart phone. They show different figures in SNS. They will talk with many strange persons in SNS such as Kakao Talk and Facebook. SNS is certainly revolutionary in terms of broadening communication and developing personal relationships. But it isolates people from outside reality.

 


Finally, using smart phones for a long time causes health problems. As smart phone users are increasing and they spend an average of 3.2 hours per day on their phones, recently many people feel pain and visit the doctor for treatment of overuse related injuries. But there are even more potential risks. Especially, for students who have not reached puberty, concentrating on smart phones and playing games could bring about imbalances in brain development. When the brain develops in youth, the left brain develops first and then right brain develops. But smart phones accelerate the growth of the left brain only, so it can hinder right brain development and causes imbalances. Also, having a stooped posture causes the possibility of having cervical disc injuries. As smart phones have been popularized, the number of cervical disc patients is increasing.

 

 Many Korean people are addicted to smart phones. There are numerous differences between smart phones and feature phones. Among the advantages are that users can get on the internet directly, and access internet in various ways. Also, people can make personalize applications, set up their own interface system and share information freely. In fact, almost 80% of the economically active population uses smartphones. Smart phones have strengths. However, they also have weaknesses. As smart phones have proliferated quickly, problems with applications have arisen. The Kakao Talk application is a global mobile messenger now. It was launched on March 18th, 2010. Due to its free service and comfortable functions, the number of users had grown to over 10 million in the early 2011. Now, the total number of users is over 40 million in 2012. As the Kakao Talk app has become common among smart phone users, it has also led to many controversial problems.


First, when using the group chatting function of Kakao Talk, someone can invite up to 100 people and confine them in the group chat. In mosy group chats, if we don’t want to be involved, we can leave. But in Kakao Talk app, if we  leave the group chat room, someone can invite the person back in again and again, so people get confined. This situation is called “Kakao Talk Prison. Kang Bi-won, a student in Dongguk University said, “I joined one club. I was invited to the group chat room. But, I was not close to the club members and was not interested in that club. So, I often left the group chats. However, someone kept inviting me continuously. I had nothing to tell them and my battery was running out so fast. I even thought that it would be better if I removed the Kakao Talk app.”


In addition, the “Kakao Talk Prison” effect causes other problems. Some people invite one specific person they don’t like and hurl abuse. But the victim cannot get out of the group chat. Wrongdoers invite people continuously every time the victim tries to leave.  In addition, there are many problems with apps related to KakaoTalk. Baesin Talk is a new type of fraud. Baesin Talk claimed that users could know who intercepted them and who didn’t want to know them. When users enrolled for a membership, they had to input their cell phone number and authorization code. But there was no explanation of additional costs. After joining, a message that 16,500 won was being charged was sent to users.


Finally, various messenger apps are also controversial. Messenger apps have been used as a medium of prostitution and obscene information. For example, in the famous portal site “nightlife”, most of the content is about speed meeting by using chatting apps. This app user can receive other user’s location, age, pictures within 1km radius. After searching other people and sending message to speed meeting, they meet in person. But the problems are that there is a lot of illegal information, and adolescents can use these apps with no limitation. One citizen said, “There are some middle school or high school students changing their picture and sharing lewd conversations. These apps encourage a promiscuous sex culture and increase the number of sex crimes. It is a very big problem.” 


Smart phones have become a major part of our everyday life. It is not just cell phone functioning such as call and message sending. Using famous restaurant apps, smart phone users often find popular restaurant and taste new dishes. They also talk with friends and share their pictures or videos in Kakao Talk app. The world existing without smart phones is difficult to imagine to users now. Human beings made smart phones, but they have become slaves of it. The bad effects of smart phone are closely related to our life so we need to try to perceive and solve these problems. Do you know some controversial problems about smart phone and read the specifications carefully when you download the apps? Do you find yourself waiting for messages from your friends every 5 minutes? With “helping moderate phone use” app, we can set certain apps not to be open at specific times. During blocking time, we cannot cancel these limitations so it would be useful. For your effective use of smart phone, why don’t we download “helping moderate phone use” app or make other habit such as reading books or exercise? How about not using your smart phone for a day? Let’s judge ourselves with this smart phone self-diagnosis test!    

 

 

Park Su-jeong, Ha Sun-jin  happy2uy@dongguk.edu, honeyfunnybunny@dongguk.edu

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