Within 2013, the number of smartphone owners is expected to reach about half of all cell phone users in Japan, and over the next several years, the figure will eventually rise to 70%, a reporter at a national daily newspaper tells Shukan Taishu (Feb 11).
The phone's large screens permit viewing of web sites on the Internet, and among their impressive applications are maps with navigation functions.
On the other hand, they can be highly addictive, which has led others to grumble over growing numbers of distracted smartphone users.
"All of the young employees here constantly play with their phones during work," complains the 53-year-old sales manager of a foodstuffs company in Tokyo. "If they've got that much time on their hands, they should be out calling on clients, but they say they're 'collecting data.' Previously while we were holding a meeting to introduce a new product, one young guy in his 20s was holding his phone under his desk and fiddling with it. I warned him, and he said, unapologetically 'There was something I had to check.'"
Their usage in public places can also be dangerously distracting.
"On my way home, I let myself get completely wrapped up in a game, and at the station I bumped into someone and fell off the platform," a 28-year-old wage earner relates. "I broke my elbow. If a train had been approaching just then, I would have been in real trouble."
Neither old nor young people deny their dependence on the multiple functions and convenience of smartphones, says Toshiyuki Inoue, a journalist who covers information technology. "With the push by phone providers to line up middle-aged and elderly customers from last year in particular, their dependence on smartphones has been conspicuous."
One 44-year-old housewife became infatuated with blogs and Twitter.
"Even when our 6-year-old pleaded with me, 'C'mon, mom, let's play,' I would brush him off by saying, 'Don't bother me,'" she recalls. "Every morning my face would look tired from lack of sleep, like it had never been before. And while in a restaurant, if I couldn't get a signal, I'd ask to be moved to another table."
Finally during the New Year's holiday, she even found herself operating her phone while lying on a beach at an overseas resort, and she finally realized the toll the phone was taking on her time and household budget.
A medical writer tells the magazine the symptoms of smartphone addiction may include headaches, vertigo, loss of parasympathetic nerve function, and in a worse cases, depression.
Are you a smartphone "addict?" The 10-point self-test below should be able to tell you one way or the other. Just circle each number that applies to you.
- You feel anxiety when you're separated from your phone.
- You carry your phone into the toilet or bath.
- You keep using your phone even while together with intimate friends.
- Posting messages on Twitter gives you more pleasure than speaking to people.
- You often pick up the phone for no particular reason.
- If somebody talks to you while you're using the phone, even your child or a lover, you feel annoyed.
- You use your phone while driving.
- You persist in using the phone even when your eyes feel tired or your shoulders stiffen.
- During a sports broadcast, you miss some important play because you were focused on inputting something into the phone.
- You have in the past lost a friend, a lover or a spouse as a result of smartphone use.
If you score 8 or above, you've got a serious case of smartphone addiction. A score of between 4 and 7 puts you in the danger zone. But even 1 yes out of the 10, the magazine warns, calls for vigilance.© Japan Today