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Smartphone addiction and summer travel

Every summer, my family vacation is a negotiation when it comes to wireless gadgets. It starts before we even leave the house. Will my husband bring his work laptop? Will I? Should the kids bring their cell phones? I'd like to ban all electronics but I usually get vetoed.

When I think about it, it's not the gadgets we're arguing over, it's what we do with the gadgets that creates the problem. They pull us into a virtual world that takes away from connecting with the people around us.

Of course, my husband argues that he needs to check in with work. Many people feel that way. Checking in now and then is one thing. Smartphone addiction is another. From the palm of our hand we can connect with our offices, and some people just can't disconnect. It really stinks if you're the person traveling with the smartphone addict. 

Leslie Perlow, a Harvard Business School professor and author of Sleeping With Your Smartphone  thinks people can beat smartphone addiction and take real vacations if they work in teams. Important things come up and someone needs to handle them, she says. "But there's no reason you have to be on all the time." If you work as a team and have the conversation where everyone gets the same benefit ( a stress free vacation or one night a week off),there are lots of ways to cover for each other, she says. "It's about being proactive."

Today, in my Miami Herald column I wrote about the effect of smart phone addiction on spouses, partners, friends and travel companions. If you've can relate, let me hear from you. How do you handle it being around a smartphone addict?

The Miami Herald

Smartphone addiction can put damper on vacations, relationships

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

Tim Lee / MCT
On vacation, Annabel Fernandez watched incredulously as her husband splashed in the pool of a beachfront resort with their twin daughters. Between the giggling and water play, she saw him glancing at his iPhone on the pool’s ledge. The night before, she had caught him checking email on his smartphone under the table at dinner.

“I started realizing it was an addiction,” she said. “I felt like we were losing him to a screen.”

As the number of smartphone users rises, so does the level of anxiety and friction around using them. Downsizing and economic realities have left workers with a real fear of what might happen if they are out of touch too long. Will the client go elsewhere? Will the boss find a new protégé? The fear has turned into a compulsion that has workers tethered to their mobile phones — even when they’re supposed to be off the clock.

But for the spouse, partner, friend, or travel companion of a smartphone addict, the fear can ruin a vacation, a night out or worse — a relationship.

“When you’re on the phone you’re ignoring the person you are traveling with; that creates resentment,” says Kimberly Young, a psychologist and director of Center for Internet Addiction Recovery.

The digitally hooked often overlook the toll on their companions. Married to an attorney, Bob Greene says it completely unnerves him to watch his wife’s reaction to an incoming work-related email. “We’re supposed to be on vacation relaxing, and I can see that something at the office didn’t go her way. It not only stresses her out, it stressed me out, too.”

While smartphone addiction has been difficult to track, in a survey by mobile-services provider  iPass, 91 percent of mobile users said they use their free time, both day and night, to check their smartphones. Among those, almost 30 percent check their smartphones three to five times an hour, and 20 percent check them five to 10 times an hour. Young calls anxiety around constant connectivity “a chronic and universal problem.”

Travel companions say the problem often comes to a head on vacation or during leisure activity when the goal is to reconnect and their partner sends the message that business is a priority. Companions say they find themselves torn between bringing the smartphone user into the present and coming across as a nag.

Miami marketing strategist Michelle Villalobos says the only way to travel with a smartphone addict is to establish the rules upfront, before the loaded minivan leaves the driveway. “If you wait until you’re in the moment, you find yourself in the situation where the other person is looking at you like ‘who are you, the cellphone police?’ When traveling, she and her boyfriend not only set the time when they will check in with work, they also set the place — for example only in the hotel room in the early morning hours.

Making the rules together and negotiating is key. Some people really do need to be accessible and forcing them to disconnect could create business challenges, Young says. “You may need to accept a middle ground, and instead of setting overall vacation rules, set daily rules based on what everyone needs.”



Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/10/v-print/2890154/smartphone-addiction-can-put-damper.html#storylink=cpy