Do you use a sleep monitor to monitor your nightly sleeping habits? Do you consult your Full Fitness app for your daily (OK, weekly) workout regiment? How about your day-to-day to-do list? A recent Pew Research Center Poll indicates that 66% of Americans aged 18-29 currently own a smartphone which, to no surprise, means that in all likelihood the vast majority of that number are frequent mobile app users. It’s a pretty incredible number when you take the time to think about it. Even more incredible is the sheer number of mobile apps currently on the market as well as their wide range of applications to our daily lives. We have apps to track how many calories we eat in a day, apps to track what shows we typically watch, apps that track our schedules, and even apps that help us get dressed every morning. If there is a niche in our day where we can use an app, it already exists. Are we creating a “human app”? Where does it end, and more importantly, does it need to?
Let’s pretend for a moment that every aspect of your day is monitored by an app. That is to say, imagine that for every task you do throughout the day you use an app’s assistance. Your phone’s alarm wakes you up, you consult an app to figure out what to make for breakfast, then use an app to determine when the bus will arrive to take you to work. Or maybe you’re driving? There are apps that tell you where the nearest gas station is, the cheapest gas station, as well as apps that give you turn-by-turn directions for how to get there. There are apps for everything we do, so what if your life were completely dependent upon them?
It is true, the possibility of a blackout or a network shortage would become terrifying. Losing your phone might be equated to losing your mind. But let’s hope that we’re still able to retain the ability to function with or without the use of apps, their use just happens to make life that much easier. Do apps make us better off, more efficient individuals? How much more can we keep track of with a task organizer versus the human brain?
For this blogger, the answer is a lot. The amount of times I reference my phone for assistance with daily tasks is staggering. I have an app that organizes my schoolwork by subject and due date, another app that briefs me on upcoming obligations, an app that tells me when specific TV shows are on, and even an app that will remotely record them for me on my cable box. I consult an app every morning for the day’s hour-by-hour weather forecast and an app where I monitor my banking statement. You could argue that I may use more apps than the average Joe, but is it that much more? Probably not. For my 18-29 age demographic, apps are only growing in their use and popularity. So then back to our initial question, does this trend need to end and is this increased app usage unhealthy?
At least from this perspective, the answers are no and no. Integrating our mobile devices, and more importantly the apps they offer, into our daily lives yields a massive increase in the sheer amount of information we’re able to process and take advantage of. Think of your smartphone as a remote hard drive to our brains, capable of storing excess information that would otherwise slow our processor. In today’s day and age we have the ability to export information while still retaining it, and I’m not talking about jotting notes down on a piece of paper. The infiltration of mobile apps into every day life gives us the opportunity to manage multiple items simultaneously and without the stress and fear of forgetting one such task. Does this slow us down? Not at all. With the world growing at the pace it is, the reality is that there is simply more information we’re required to manage. Now instead of managing it all by ourselves, we have a human app to help us out.