Punkt: Does it really need to go this far?

A new mobile phone brand has been launched. According to the Guardian, Punkt is a simple call-and-text handset created specifically to remove us from our ‘always connected’ state and help us reconnect with the world around us.

Thrive with Digital is all for connecting with people around us, but this is such an extreme way of handling the problem of excessive mobile use. Are our handsets really so addictive that the only way we can control our urge to check the screen is to revert to dumber phones?

Perhaps they are – there is, after all, a lot of addictive behaviour on display, as Craig noted in his recent post.  Wouldn’t it be better, though, if we tried to understand this better and then established some norms around mobile usage, rather than throw away the treasure throve of capabilities that smartphones offer?

It would take some willpower, of course, but it seems to me that it would be far better to find ways to ensure that we can all manage our mobile use, so that we don’t let technology control us. Throwing the smartphone away completely would indicate that we have no power to control our smartphone urges at all.  With technology invariably entering our lives from every angle – some of it bringing significant environmental or health benefits – that would point to a very sad future, where tech rules us.

If we choose to take control, a small, well-designed Punkt or low-end Nokia may be a good option to swap to when you occasionally choose to switch off almost completely or don’t want to carry a big handset. Then again, I have the ability to turn off the data connection on my smartphone and I’m not afraid to do so if I feel like it. The smartphone can stay in my handbag and I’ll make sure I’m in charge and can choose when to use it.

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