A report has revealed that almost a third of the population are now unable to walk to the shops or cross a busy road without the aid of a smartphone. When older types of mobile device are taken into account, the number rises to 47 percent.
While many blame a culture which has seen console games replace outdoor play for the younger generation, it is not just kids who suffer from what has become known as Space And Time Neurological Awareness Vacuum, or SATNAV disorder. Adults as old as 49 can regularly be seen with their heads down, using their phone to cross busy roads and to negotiate their way through crowds instead of looking where they are going in the more conventional manner.
Ann Blunt, a representative of the smartphone industry, said that the pressures and complexity of modern life sometimes meant that people did not have the time or ability to calculate the optimum course or speed when walking, but needed to rely on an appropriate app.
‘In fact, in most circumstances it’s much safer to use a phone,’ said Ms Blunt. ‘It can pick up the speed and direction of every vehicle and pedestrian in the vicinity, as well as rates of change, leaving the user with nothing more complex to do than watch the screen and follow instructions. The phone even seems to predict when cars will screech to a halt or other people will dive out of the way; it’s uncanny.’
Even when users go to live sporting or music events, where they can safely view other people doing active things from a stationary position, many of them still prefer to take it in through their phones, which are thought to analyse and provide comments on the action and make it simpler to take in.
The only age group whose members can all navigate without looking at a hand-held screen are the over 70s, some of whom can still be seen talking into their phones, having not yet got over the novelty.