Tag: Phone

Your Child is an Addict

By Mason Mohon | USA

Welcome to the glorious new world. We have an absurd amount of computer processing power and information in our pockets, at all times. We all carry around our phones with us all the time, constantly checking and looking for new information. The information age is kind of great. I can pull out my phone and text my friend in Sweden, look up an academic paper, or watch whatever episode of The Office that my heart desires. What isn’t to love?

Studies show that there isn’t much not to love. As The Economist recently reported, teens are backing off from what is usually considered “bad behavior.” That is, we are consuming fewer drugs, having less procreative sex, and beating each other up less. All across the developed world, this trend is repeated, with the average age of first consumption of alcohol increasing by two years in Australia since 1998. The pub and nightclub industry has lost the interest of young people in Britain. In the U.S., the teen birth rate has fallen down by two-thirds. In the U.K., about 3000 youngsters were in convicted custody when ‘07 rolled around. In 2016, that number has fallen below one thousand. Clearly, things are getting better. There is so much less to fear when teenagers aren’t going out and having abusive drunk sex.

Shoko Yoneyama, an expert on Japanese teenagers at the University of Adelaide, has gone as far to call it “kind of boring.” Everyone is a nerd now.

But this is coming at a cost. We are turning into really, really sad people. When I say that, I don’t mean that we are becoming sad as in lame (although the argument can clearly be made in favor of that), but rather we are becoming literally sad. We are frowning more, getting stressed more, and shockingly, we are killing ourselves more. The Wall Street Journal reported that depression is up 400% since 1990, and this seems to be more or less linked to our increased usage of life-easing tech. Dr. Ilardi, the author of the article, said the following:

Excessive screen time lulls us ever deeper into habitual inactivity, overstimulates the nervous system and increases production of the stress hormone cortisol. In the short term, cortisol helps us react to high-pressure situations, but when chronically activated, it triggers the brain’s toxic runaway stress response, which researchers have identified as an ultimate driver of depressive illness.

It is like we are playing a slot machine. We are constantly scrolling through Facebook or Instagram in search of satisfaction. We hope the next post to slide by will amaze us, and that’s the science of it. Dan Sanchez described experiments where both rats and humans would relentlessly press a lever that activated pleasurable feelings in their mind. He quotes Kelly McGonigal,  who says the following: “When the brain recognizes an opportunity for reward, it releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine tells the rest of the brain what to pay attention to and what to get our greedy little hands on. A dopamine rush doesn’t create happiness itself — the feeling is more like arousal”

Our phones aren’t making us happy, they are merely arousing us to the potential of an award, and this has become extremely addicting for us. The aforementioned WSJ article said the following in relation to a group of 1000 students who pledged to give up screens for a day: “Most students dropped out of the study in a matter of hours, and many reported symptoms of withdrawal associated with substance addiction.” We have traded addiction to alcohol for addiction to phones and other kinds of tech. The results are extremely detrimental. Although evidence that the two are causally related is lacking, suicides in the U.S. increased by 24% in a period between 1999 and 2014.

Even though studies haven’t conclusively shown it, the link is clear. Face to face human interaction is important for us to have. We are engineered to pick up context clues from another human standing or sitting across from us while conversing. Taking that away and putting it into the world of phones makes even the most intimate conversations completely impersonal. It is clearly taking a toll, and it is a problem we need to fix.

But how do we fix this? Surely, it would only throw gasoline on top of the fire to ask the state to sweep in and solve things. What the solution has to be in personal responsibility. We need to both take care of our own minds and bodies by being careful in the amount that we consume, and we need to band together with families and friend groups to work together and keep each other accountable. There need to be support groups for screen usage just like we have for addictions of other kinds.

There is a lot that you can do in your own life, too. If you’re eating or getting coffee with someone, don’t check your phone. Don’t even set it on the table. See if you can go an hour or two throughout the day without it. We seem to be more addicted to our phones, using them every ten to fifteen minutes, than just about any other drug.

This is a problem we all need to work together to fix. Practice responsibility, and practice limiting yourself. When it gets down to it, we are dying for face to face human interaction and dying without it.

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Stop Beating Around the Bush, Apple!

By Jason Patterson | USA

Recent reports have shown that Reddit users have been noticing that Apple is intentionally slowing down old iPhones that have low-capacity batteries. While many iPhone users have experienced perceived slowdowns due to iOS updates over the years, it appears that there is now evidence that Apple is throttling processor speeds when a battery capacity deteriorates over time.

 John Poole, a Geekbench developer has mapped outperformance for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 over time and has come to the conclusion that Apple’s iOS 10.2.1 and 11.2.0 updates introduce this throttling for different devices. iOS 10.2.1 is particularly important,  as this update was designed to reduce random shutdown issues for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S. So basically  Geekbench shows that iOS 11.2.0 introduces similar throttling for iPhone 7 units with older batteries.

Also, some Reddit users said that replacing their batteries has returned performance and CPU clock speeds back to normal. These findings are particularly strange and could lead to owners to upgrade their entire device instead of replacing the battery. “This fix will also cause users to think, ‘my phone is slow so I should replace it’ not, ‘my phone is slow so I should replace its battery,’” Geekbench’s John Poole claimed.

Apple responded to the findings by saying;

Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.

Apple is basically claiming that it’s not slowing down older iPhones just to urge people to upgrade to newer devices. It’s addressing an issue with devices containing older lithium-ion batteries that results in unexpected shutdowns. Because those older batteries are incapable of handling peak current draws with the same effectiveness of iPhones with newer batteries and more efficient processors, they run the risk of the device powering down to prevent damage to its internal components.

It all makes maps out. As battery life degrades, a smartphone’s ability to achieve the same performance with less efficient battery use degrades as.  However, the company isn’t helping by being a bit opaque. It’s clear that controversies like this — underpinned by conspiracy theories around planned obsolescence — sprout up because there is a lack of communication between device manufacturers like Apple and consumers.

It’s also obvious that Apple, which makes its devices hard to open and repair, could do a  better job helping consumers understand the benefits of battery replacement if they indeed wanted to.  That’s something the company seems less inclined to do when it might mean forgoing the sale of a new iPhone every 12 to 24 months. We have to remember their main goal is to sell phones.