There was a recent news report in Ottawa about an increase of smartphone robberies—at bus stops, secluded pathways and other public places. Similar stories on smartphone thefts and robberies have been reported in many other big cities.
People nowadays are so dependent on their mobile devices for social networking or following the news that they won’t waste any minute while in transit, waiting for someone or a bus, or even while walking. In doing so, they often are not aware of their surroundings and provide an opportunity to robbers lurking around them and targeting their valuable assets.
There is a video of a robber on a bicycle who snatched a smartphone from its owner at a bus stop: http://www.cbc.ca/player/Embedded-Only/Must%20watch/Old/ID/2402081648/
Even though the recently launched “blacklist” of lost and stolen cell phones, tablets and other wireless devices can help reduce the mobiles’ robberies and thefts by making them less valuable to the criminals, it will still be an inconvenience and/or a financial loss to the owners.
When I see people use their smartphones (or other mobile devices) in a public place even while walking or driving, I worry for them that they may be so oblivious to their surroundings that they may cause an accident, have their expensive tools robbed or put themselves into an embarrassing situation. I have read a story about a man who texted on his smartphone while walking on a street. He could manage to do it without looking up by just making sure he followed the feet of the person walking in front of him. Once he did this as usual, until that person in front of him suddenly stopped and turned toward him. He looked up and found that he had followed a woman into a women’s washroom!
Some smartphone users feel obliged to be constantly checking for messages and news because their bosses have put such pressure on them. However, some companies like Volkswagen, BMW, Goldman Sachs, WholsCarrus, Matter Communications and Batchbook now realize that giving their employees a break from instant communication is better for their businesses, because employees less stressed are better for their companies. I hope that those employees can really take advantage of the break to spend time on offline activities that benefit them in relationships and health. I also wonder whether any Canadian companies are taking similar measures of mandatory digital breaks.