Are smartphones the perfect student pet?

Students love smartphones. Even more than television and sex, according to a recent survey. And with eight-out-of-ten students now owning one (40% more than the rest of the population), their devotion to their selfie-snappers is beyond question.

So what's the app-eal? One researcher in America has previously claimed phones have become a source of pride and joy similar to that of a new pet. A strange comparison? Well hold on - maybe he is on to something. Could students have found the perfect pet replacement?

Think about it. You can stroke them, play with them and show other people cool tricks they can do. They recognise your voice when you command them and keep you company when you're alone. You can buy them accessories to dress them up, have them watch over you at night - and wake you up in the morning.

You can even make them dance across the table like you used to do with your hamster.

Students are usually unable to have real life pets in their halls of residence or house-share because of boring things like tenancy agreements, responsibility and expense. But no room advert will ever say: "No smokers, no smartphone users". You don't need to have your neighbour look after them when you go on holiday. And the only thing they eat is data, which is notably cheaper than Pedigree Chum. Even if you are on 4G.

And let's not forget that even the most loving pet can't help you with your studies. I couldn't even persuade my dog to eat my homework, yet students are now proving their phones are worth their weight in Instagrams as a study tool - by using them to record lectures, take notes and read the new mobile-friendly Guardian University Guide (shameless plug alert).

Of course any devoted pet owner has to worry about the welfare of his furry friend, and it's no different for smartphone users. Some will know the sinking feeling of dropping a phone down the toilet, others the candy-crushing lows of smashing a screen. And not forgetting the smartphone fate that is so much worse than all the rest: losing a phone (if only for a second) can send the most app-happy chap into a panicked state of confusion not seen since they last tried to navigate a journey using Apple Maps.

Still, perhaps in time smartphones could go on to replace pets everywhere. A digital pet dystopia was probably what Bandai had in mind when launching the Tamagotchi in 1996. It knew that technology could bring an end to pet-based problems like cats getting stuck up trees, parrots learning swear-words, and dogs dancing on Britain's Got Talent.

And it could, one day. But until then, a dog shall remain man's best friend, and the smartphone will stay a student's best friend. Now, if they could only design one with a decent battery life.

(Source: TheGuardian)


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