Our phones are getting smarter, but at what cost?

Our cell phones are getting smarter and smarter as we grow more dependent on them. As I am typing this blog post I have my iPhone on the desk beside me, where it almost always is. When was the last time I turned it off or forgot it at home? The truth is, I often feel lost without it. I think that most other people my age would feel similarly. Known as Generation Y, we were born into the world of Google and multi-tasking. We are accustomed to instantaneous communication and access to information.

But technology may be going too far, according to Andrew Keen, a British-American entrepreneur and writer for CNN.com. Keen said that our addiction to smart phones is unhealthy and allows for breaches of our privacy by companies like Google and Facebook.

There are now five billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world, according to the secretary general of the UN’s International Telecommunications Union.

That is a lot of personal data to cash in on, and according to Keen companies are doing just that.

“There’s an entire ecosystem developing around our mobile devices designed to spy on us,” Keen said in an article he wrote.

It is no coincidence when ads pop up on websites that are catered to your personal interests.

Google was recently accused of finding a loophole in Safari’s browser system to collect information about its users. Websites installed Google tracking codes once users visited the site. Denying that this practice allows the company access to any personal information, Google has actually stated that users can rely on Safari’s privacy settings to avoid being tracked.

Facebook, YouTube and Flickr have also come under attack for their privacy settings on mobile phone apps. Smart phone users are vulnerable to invasions of privacy, such as companies being able to track whom you call or read text messages. All of these companies have denied that they access personal information from Androids or iPhones but admitted they do have those capabilities.

With all these privacy questions swirling, it is important to remember that we are still in control of what we put on the Internet and how we use our phones. We can choose to not be addicted to our cell phones, leave them at home or turn them off every once and a while.

The world will not end if we don’t respond to emails within two hours or tweet every detail of our lives.

Smart phones have made information all the more accessible, which can be vitally helpful. But they sometimes replace real and meaningful personal interaction. We can change this trend before it gets out of control in terms of both privacy and addiction.

Just turn it off.

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