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Learn to talk about smartphone addiction in 6 minutes!

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Rob: Hello, welcome to 6 Minute English I'm Rob

Catherine: And I'm Catherine Rob: So, Catherine, how long do you spend on your smartphone? Catherine: My smartphone? Not that long really, only about 18 or 19 hours Rob: No, sorry, I meant in a day, not in a week Catherine: Er, that's what I meant too, Rob – a day Rob: Oh wow, so you’ve even got it right here

Catherine: …yep, got it now, Rob Yes, I should tell you that I suffer from FOMO Rob: FOMO? Catherine: FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out

Something cool or interesting might be happening somewhere, Rob, and I want to be sure I catch it, so I have to keep checking my phone, to make sure, you know, I don't miss out on anything Rob: So we could call you a phubber… Hello I said, so you’re a phubber? Someone who ignores other people because you’d rather look at your phone

Catherine: Oh, yeah, that's right Rob: It sounds like you have a bit of a problem there, Catherine But you’re not the only one According to one recent survey, half of teenagers in the USA feel like they are addicted to their mobile phones If you are addicted to something, you have a physical or mental need to keep on doing it

You can’t stop doing it You often hear about people being addicted to drugs or alcohol, but you can be addicted to other things too, like mobile phones So, Catherine, do you think you’re addicted to your phone? How long could you go without it? Catherine? Catherine! Catherine: Sorry, Rob, yes, well I think if I went more than a minute, I'd probably get sort of sweaty palms and I think I'd start feeling a bit panicky Rob: Oh dear! Well, if I can distract you just for a few minutes, can we look at this topic in more detail please? Let's start with a quiz question first though In what year did the term ‘smartphone’ first appear in print? Was it: a) 1995, b) 2000 or c) 2005

What do you think? Catherine: OK, you've got my full attention now, Rob, and I think it’s 2000 but actually can I just have a quick look on my phone to check the answer? Rob: No, no, that would be cheating – for you – maybe not for the listeners Catherine: Spoilsport Rob: Right, Jean Twenge is a psychologist who has written about the damage she feels smartphones are doing to society She has written that smartphones have probably led to an increase in mental health problems for teenagers We’re going to hear from her now, speaking to the BBC

What does she say is one of the dangers of using our phones? Jean Twenge: I think everybody’s had that experience of reading their news feed too much, compulsively checking your phone if you’re waiting for a text or getting really into social media then kind of, looking up and realising that an hour has passed Rob: So what danger does she mention? Catherine: Well, she said that we can get so involved in our phones that we don’t notice the time passing and when we finally look up, we realise that maybe an hour has gone And I must say, I find that to be true for me, especially when I'm watching videos online They pull you in with more and more videos and I’ve spent ages just getting lost in video after video Rob: Well that's not a problem if you're looking at our YouTube site of course, there's lots to see there

Catherine: Yes BBC Learning English, no problem, you can watch as many as you like Rob: Well, she talks about checking our phones compulsively If you do something compulsively you can’t really control it – it’s a feature of being addicted to something, you feel you have to do it again and again Some tech companies though are now looking at building in timers to apps which will warn us when we have spent too long on them Does Jean Twenge think this will be a good idea? Jean Twenge: It might mean that people look at social media less frequently and that they do what it really should be used for, which is to keep in touch with people but then put it away and go see some of those people in person or give them a phone call

Rob: So, does she think it’s a good idea? Catherine: Well, she doesn’t say so directly, but we can guess from her answer that she does, because she says these timers will make people spend more time in face-to-face interaction, which a lot of people think would be a good thing Rob: Yes, she said we should be using it for keeping in touch with people – which means contacting people, communicating with them and also encouraging us to do that communication in person If you do something in person then you physically do it – you go somewhere yourself or see someone yourself, you don’t do it online or through your smartphone, which nicely brings us back to our quiz question When was the term smartphone first used in print – 1995, 2000 or 2005? What did you say, Catherine? Catherine: I think I said 2005, without looking it up on my phone, Rob! Rob: That's good to know but maybe looking at your phone would have helped because the answer was 1995 But well done to anybody who did know that

Catherine: Or well done to anyone who looked it up on their phone and got the right answer Rob: Mmm, right, before logging off let’s review today’s vocabulary Catherine: OK, we had FOMO, an acronym that means Fear Of Missing Out Something that I get quite a lot Rob: And that makes you also a phubber – people who ignore the real people around them because they are concentrating on their phones

Catherine: Yes, I do think I’m probably addicted to my phone I have a psychological and physical need to have it My smartphone is my drug Rob: Wow, and you look at it compulsively You can’t stop looking at it, you do it again and again, don't you? Catherine: It's sadly true, Rob

To keep in touch with someone is to contact them and share your news regularly Rob: And if you do that yourself by actually meeting them, then you are doing it in person And that brings us to the end of today’s programme Don’t forget you can find us on the usual social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube – and on our website at bbclearningenglishcom

Bye for now Catherine: Bye!

Source: Youtube

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