One thing that many youth workers have in common is smartphone. They can make our lives easier as youth workers but they can also make our lives empty while working with our youth. I've seen it at youth events and seen at when youth workers are meeting youth. This one-on-one time (in a public place of course) is used not for connecting but for online connecting. How to have a real relationship with another human being is something that we need to be coaching and mentoring youth on, not being distracted by a technological brick in our hand. Are you more interested in being a transactional youth worker or transformational youth worker?
Yesterday, I read an eye opening article by Neil Hughes, "Are You a Slave to Your Smartphone?" a LinkedIn blogger. I have included the article below with Neil's permission.  
Whilst at a concert last week, I had a quick look around at the audience of fellow music lovers and the majority of attendees all had one thing in common which was the inability to keep their smartphone in their pocket for more than 2 minutes.
Some even watched most of the gig through the black screen on their phone which prompted an epiphany or sorts and the question “why are we desperately trying to record and capture the moment rather than simply enjoying it?
From experience, when looking back at footage shot on smart phones the sound and images seldom capture the experience of the show itself, so the night would be better enjoyed and remembered if we simply left our phones in our pockets.
After the encore people headed for the exits, but rather than talk to each other about how great the performance they just shared together in a moment that will be frozen in time inside their hearts and minds, most couples were heads down into their phones before going for an after show drink somewhere only to sit at a table in silence with their attention directed towards their online lives.
Suddenly it felt like I had the third eye of enlightenment and could see how we are turning into zombies who are slaves to an insatiable thirst for their mobile phones and digital connections who they probably will never even meet in the physical sense.There is a certain amount of irony that this fantastic technology that has enabled people from every corner of the world to connect and share ideas has equally prevented us from being able to communicate with each other face to face.
In extreme circumstances, it’s not unusual to find people recording the scene of an accident on their phone rather than offering a helping hand which is something that I find incredibly creepy, sinister and reminiscent of the brave new world that Aldous Huxle wrote about many years ago.
Recently a smartphone-addict sidewalk was created in China for users who are just too busy to look up and see where they are going that once again proves the theory that truth really is stranger than fiction.This got me thinking, I wonder how many times we actually check our mobile devices each day?
The app BreakFree on Android (iOS coming soon) is an innovative way of curbing your smartphone addiction which will show you exactly how many times you check your mobile and what apps are your biggest time stealers.The handy app will allow you to turn off pesky notifications from the worst offenders and little by little allows you to wrestle back a little control over your life again.
Make no mistake, I am not going to get all self-righteous with you all because I have enough self-awareness to know that I'm guilty of checking my own phone over 100 times a day and have recently upgraded to a Sony Experia Z3 which allows me to watch Netflix in the shower or play games streamed from my PS4 on it whilst my other half watches TV which makes me a part of the problem rather than the solution.
Dr Simon Hampton, psychology lecturer at the University of East Anglia advised that:
People's inability to leave their phones alone is the newest addition to common 'displacement' behaviours such as smoking, doodling, fiddling with objects and picking at food. It's also an extension of 'nomophobia' – the fear of being without your mobile
Even when armed with this information, I realise that if there is ever a spare few minutes such as queue at the supermarket, I will be reaching for my phone but I would argue that this is more productive than standing around sighing and complaining about the length of time to be served.
As someone who is passionate about how technology has revolutionised the field of productivity and communication in the workplace, there is no doubting that the key to the success is via being connected, collaborative and creative.
Technology can have an often overwhelming but positive effect on our lives, however sometimes maybe we should all try to be more self-aware of our immediate surroundings and the experience that you could be missing out on right now.
Everything is on demand in this digitally connected world where instant gratification dominates every aspect of our lives, however the next time we are in that important work meeting, romantic meal or day out with family and friends, let’s all make an extra effort to rescue the lost art of communicating face to face and enjoying the moment rather than recording it.
Living your life, rather than viewing it through a screen should be an easy choice for anyone to make, so let’s make a united effort to not take for granted the things that really matter in our lives.
Are you conscious of checking your phone too often? Do you find yourself irritated trying to hold a conversation with someone more interested in their phone than you?Let me know your experiences and thoughts on this modern day problem by commenting below.================================Neil Hughes is an IT Professional, freelance content writer, and also helps manage the LinkedIn's Publishers and Bloggers Group.You can find him on Twitter at @neilchughes or can be contacted via