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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Smartphones killing creativity

Kirjoittanut: Ariel Cohen - tiimistä SYNTRE.

Esseen tyyppi: Yksilöessee / 2 esseepistettä.
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 5 minuuttia.

Next time you sit on a bus, stand in a line to grab a coffee, or wait for a friend in the street, take a look around. The odds are that most of the people you see are glued to their smartphones, passing their time by posting on social media, checking up on friends, scrolling through Instagram, watching TikToks, or playing games. Why are we so afraid of boredom that we need to fill every gap in our days with smartphones? Why are we opening the smartphone instantly, when we are getting a notification? Why can’t we focus on simple tasks without feeling the urge to check our phones every 2 minutes? 


Thanks to today’s technology, people have found a new way of killing time. Those magazines in your doctor’s office are just gathering dust and being unread, and your fellow customers in line for coffee are being ignored and simply even knowing about your surroundings. You can forget it. Between electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and computers, we are becoming a society that is ready to kill every couple of seconds of boredom with them but at what cost? 


Numerous studies suggest that time spent doing nothing (being bored) is beneficial for getting sparks of creativity and sustaining them. When we are engaged in our smart devices, our minds are focused on that small screen that holds infinite information and endless entertainment, we never get bored. Our creativity suffers.  


Spending time texting, updating social media, sending out tweets, calling friends, playing at every free moment, from every location possible, never alone with our thoughts, never allowing our thoughts to drift, never allowing to think our own, impacts our creativity, which in turn can and usually, limit our full potential. Edward de Bono, a business consultant who describes himself as the “father of lateral thinking,” calls moments of boredom “creative pauses,” in which we allow our minds to drift, and avails us to new forms of input and understanding. (Stillman 2013) 


Creative pauses are moments when we let our thoughts drift, without anything disturbing us. How do you solve insurmountable challenges and when does this breakthrough moment occur usually? After asking some of my friends, most of them had these when they were showering or driving a car, in other words, the moments when they were alone with their thoughts.  


There is a small problem with creative pauses, they are starting to become a thing of the past. When do you remember having a creative pause in your life? When you were bored the last time? Having a break from distractions? The issue nowadays is that people don’t know what is boredom anymore. Boredom isn’t killing time on your smartphone or PlayStation, real boredom is actually doing absolutely nothing. (Lindstrom 2012) 


The thing is that boredom forces us to stretch our creative abilities and find the source of the issue we’re tackling. You’ll discover that it’s nearly impossible to be bored in our modern world after taking a brief look around. Nowadays, there is at least one loud television in every pub. Your eyes will be pulled to the shifting images above, stealing any creative thoughts you might be thinking, just as night follows day. Now consider the most recent time you were waiting for a friend to join you alone in a restaurant. To avoid seeming like the lone loser in the corner, you probably reached for your phone and did something on it. (Lindstrom 2012) 


Consider the younger generation if you still can’t recall the last time you were bored. Perhaps you used to play on the street with the neighborhood kids when you were younger. Or perhaps you cycled to the local store or played some football. There were already some gaming consoles available, but at least for me, there was always screen time for 1 hour, and after that, you had to face boredom again.  There is already evidence that the next generations would have a bit of a bent little finger because of our constant use of smartphones from a young age. (Lindstrom 2012) 


Being entertained 24/7 is a dangerous addiction from which it is hard to turn back. I mean, why would you consciously be bored if you have all of this entertainment around you? Being bored is not fun.  


“There is a common feeling, whether it is a drug or food or shopping or technology. If you pay attention to what is happening in your mind and body, you notice free-floating anxiety, and then a sense of urgency, especially when separated from the object of addiction: “I have to have it now,” or “I have to keep clicking or checking.” It’s more like panic than a positive desire. It’s that physical quality of being out of control. And importantly, no matter how much you give in, it never feels like enough. There’s no satisfaction. Giving in just makes you want to do it again. What used to be fun becomes a joyless compulsion. Many people feel that way about their phones, Facebook, email, Twitter, online celebrity gossip, internet porn, and so on.” (Snyder 2012) 


Like in any addiction, the first step would be to understand the issue and pay attention to it, the pressure can come from others or yourself. Maybe your girlfriend is starting to get mad when you pull your smartphone out every minute and do not focus on her or you realize that all the time surfing on the internet, you could use do something beneficial. The most radical step, of course, would be to chuck your phone into the trash and move to a cabin in the middle of the forest, but as an entrepreneur, you need to have your phone with you all the time so you know what happens. Good for us, serious rehab probably is not needed. (Stillman 2012)  


Dr. Anna Lembke, an addiction expert and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University has done the research and after hundreds of patients, she has found that avoiding all screens, is the most beneficial way of treating a smart-device addiction. (Sneed. 2022) It is called dopamine detox or fasting, where you are not allowed to use smart devices or really anything that can help with boredom. The idea is to put yourself into a situation where you have absolutely nothing to do and you need to face boredom. Dopamine detox works in a way, that you stop doing things that produce dopamine, and ideally, after the detox you feel more centered, balanced, and less affected by the usual dopamine triggers. The astonishing thing here is, that after the detox, boring things will start to produce dopamine and you will most likely start to enjoy them.  


Next time you find yourself waiting for someone without your phone, don’t panic and grab it instantly. Let the boredom flow to your body, start to surface your most interesting puzzles, and let your brain dance for a while.  






Stillman. J. 2013. Is your smart phone killing your creativity?. Read on 28.10.2022 



Linstrom. M. 2012. Want to be more creative? Get bored. Read on 7.11.2022. 



Snyder. B. 2012. Technology you cant resist. Read on 12.11.2022 



Sneed. A. 2022. I’m addicted to my phone, how can l cut back?. Read on 13.11.2022 

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