In a world where smartphones have become an extension of our bodies, it’s hard to imagine life without them. However, a growing number of Gen Z are ditching their smartphones for flip phones in search of better mental health. With the rise of social media apps that use algorithms to capture our attention for as long as possible, many are recognizing the need to disconnect and be fully present.
According to Jackie Kates, head of marketing in North America for HMD Global, “Many smartphone users [are] beginning to recognize they are spending too much time glued to their devices and [have] a strong desire to disconnect and ‘be fully present’ to improve their quality of social connections.”
The rise of flip phones, or “dumb phones,” as they are sometimes called, is not a full-blown revival, but rather a response to the negative effects of excessive screen time. While feature phones like flip phones make up a small percentage of the mobile phone market in the US, their popularity is growing among those who want to disconnect from the constant barrage of notifications and social media feeds.
According to Tom’s Guide, Nabila Popal, research director with IDC said that feature phones like flip phones make up a small percentage of the market for mobile phones in the US. Despite of the growing trend to switch to ‘dumb phones’, feature phones are still a declining category in mobile phones.
Although the ‘dumb phone’ trend has not taken the world by storm, the desire to disconnect is real, as evidenced by the growing reddit community, r/dumbphones. The said online community boasts around 18,000 members. These members share tips on how to dumb down their existing smartphones and get tech support for their sometimes obscure feature phones. For some, the switch to a flip phone is a deliberate choice to improve their mental health and cut down on screen time.
According to CNBC, a moderator of the subreddit r/dubphones said “I think you can see it with certain Gen Z populations — they’re tired of the screens.” The moderator said that many are trying to take control of their mental health, and they see cutting back on technology as a positive way to improve their mental health.
One community member in the subreddit said that his son became a dumb phone user ‘because he has an addictive personality and will waste countless hours surfing the net when he has a smartphone.'”
While flip phones may not be the solution for everyone, they do offer a way to disconnect and be fully present. As more and more people recognize the negative effects of excessive screen time on their mental health, it’s possible that we may see a slight shift away from smartphones and towards more basic, less connected devices.
Michaels, P. (2023, January 21). Flip phones are making a comeback — here’s why. Tom’s Guide. https://www.tomsguide.com/news/flip-phones-are-making-a-comeback-heres-why
Mannie K. (2023, April 3). ‘Dumb phones’ on the rise in U.S. as Gen Z looks to curb screen time. Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/9598651/dumb-phones-sales-rise-us-gen-z-screen-time/amp/
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