SMARTPHONES are often criticised for creating distances and interrupting human connection. People sitting at the same table are more interested in their phones than in having a conversation with people sitting in front of them.

However, in certain circumstances, this very technology becomes a critical tool to maintain a vital connection during challenging circumstances. In fact, there are times when it becomes an excellent distraction tool. During my rounds of chemotherapy department of a hospital, I come across children undergoing cancer treatment away from their parents; a heart-breaking situation.

Smartphones offer some comfort when these children are able to connect with their loved ones; a mode of familiarity during a highly disruptive period of their lives. Chemotherapy is mostly given on an outpatient basis, which means patients have to stay on the bed for a few hours, sometimes up to eight hours, and then they can leave.

During this time, I often observe children playing games or watching cartoons on smartphones. One can imagine introducing these children to learning apps on their phones, which can be a productive utilisation of this technology. In exceptional circumstances, the smartphones can complement therapy as a distraction tool by reducing anxiety and stress.

Mariam Khan
Lahore

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2023

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