Total social costs of smartphones

Emeritus Prof Zulkifli Abd Razak recently wrote an interesting piece on the social costs of smart phones, drawing similarities to the early days of cigarettes smoking. In the early days smoking cigarettes were made to look glamorous, elevating social status, necessary for advancement and a sign that you are already there. Despite knowing the danger and health hazards of smoking, cigarettes companies conveniently and cleverly ignored, camouflaged and the smoke screen were so advanced cigarettes were on the forefront of many major sporting events worth billions of ringgit. It was not until recently that cigarettes adverts were banned from sporting events, after dangers of smoking became more evident. I still remember Ferrari had Malboro brazenly emblazoned on their tail wings, John Player Special on Lotus cars, Dunhill was the main sponsor in Stadium Merdeka.
Similarly, Prof Razak argued smart phones are following the same trends. Despite evidence to show the hazards posed by the exposure to the devices, companies often say there is no conclusive evidence to support the allegations. The danger from smart devices are just like the danger from any other electronic devices like the tv, vacuum cleaners, blenders, hi-fi set etc. The only different is that with smart phones you are constantly in close proximity with the active devices. Your smart phones is always at hand either in your hand bags, pockets, or a lot of youths sleep with their phones near them. The side effect of prolonged exposure to the electromagnetic radiation  is not quite known yet. Not unlike the early days of cigarettes smoking. The relatively young age of the smart phones phenomenon is hindering researchers of conclusive data. Prof Zulkifli is advocating cautions in propagating the virtues of smart devices so that we do not repeat the mistakes of discounting  the cigarettes smoking social costs.


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