Student fights smartphone slavery

JENNY KEOWN AND JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 18/10/2012
 	 SMARTPHONE USER: Andrew Burns becomes so engrossed in his smartphone that he switches off to people around him. He is already trying to wean himself off it.
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ

SMARTPHONE USER: Andrew Burns becomes so engrossed in his smartphone that he switches off to people around him. He is already trying to wean himself off it.

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Andrew Burns becomes so engrossed in his smartphone that he switches off to people around him.

The 19-year-old got his iPhone 4S in February, but he is already trying to wean himself off it for fear it is taking over his life.

He is one of the 31 per cent of Kiwis who are now using smartphones - that's a rise of 99 per cent, or 374,000 more people, in the past year, according to research company Roy Morgan.

But the survey of 12,000 people found that 42 per cent are still "technophobes" who are late to switch into the digital world through social media, smartphones, mobile banking, shopping and media.

They were defined as "anti-technology, risk-averse, and a disadvantaged and/or older group", or "middle New Zealanders who buy technology once it becomes mainstream", said Roy Morgan head of client services Howard Seccombe.

The population of professionals 35 years or older, with a passion for technology and all things digital, was growing, he said.

Almost two-thirds of New Zealanders spent $5.6 billion shopping online in the last year. Nearly half (48 per cent) of Kiwis now bank via the internet, but only 8 per cent do so via their smartphones.

Burns, a first-year Victoria University law student, believed it was easy to become attached to his smartphone. And it changed his behaviour.

His day is now hounded by constant notifications about emails, Facebook, Twitter, and his internet banking is so easy that he ends up spending more than anticipated.

He no longer had to plan ahead, because everything was accessible whenever and wherever he needed it, he said. On the way to a party, he would check the Facebook event for the address as he walked.

Before February, he had had a succession of cheaper phones, because he kept losing them.

Now he was rarely without his iPhone, and would get nervous if he was expecting an email and did not have the phone with him. "Sometimes it's nice to get away from it and its constant notifications. It's not the be-all and end-all."

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- The Dominion Post

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