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‘Smartphone Phobia’ Afflicting Middle-aged People

Posted January. 29, 2010 06:02,   


A 48-year-old executive at a large corporation uses two mobile phones. He has used an old-fashioned one for a long time but his employer has given him a smartphone.

He pretends to use the smartphone at the office but uses his own when making a call. “It’s complicated to use smartphones. Smartphones also have sound quality worse than other types of mobile phones,” he said.

“That’s why I use my old mobile phone. I carry the smartphone every day since I don’t want to fall behind my colleagues. But conventional mobile phones are far more convenient.”

The number of smartphone users has grown significantly in Korea since late last year, when Apple’s iPhone was released. Middle-aged office workers, however, are experiencing “smartphone phobia” and use their old mobile phones instead of switching to smartphones offered by employers. Others use expensive smartphones only when they talk on the phone.

A worker at a performing arts company said, “Smartphones are inconvenient.” He bought an expensive smartphone last month, but said, “Sometimes, I cannot move on to the next page or catch a call even when I touch the screen. When unexpected problems pop up, I ask young workers in their 30s to deal with them.”

Some people even believe that using smartphones is no different from adjusting to a new regime. An office worker said, “I bought a smartphone because I considered it a new mobile phone, but it isn’t so simple. It’s a totally different device.”

“After coming home from work, I check out Internet cafes in which smartphone users exchange information every day. But I have yet to learn how to efficiently use the smartphone.”

Experts say this phenomenon is a type of “techno stress.” In other words, middle-aged people get stressed when they use new devices since they have few opportunities to get used to them.

U Jong-min, a professor at the College of Medicine at Inje University in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province, said, “Certain middle-aged employees have no choice but to use smartphones due to their occupations. They should move away from the notion that they must use all functions.”