The Blog

'A is for Apple' - Is Technology a Boon or a Bane?

From the moment you meet someone, to whether you end up walking into the sunset hand-in-hand or with your mates at a pub drowning your sorrows - the life cycle of all our relationships are played out using technology.

I recently asked my four-year-old son to write a few words starting with the alphabet 'a'. He wrote 'apple', insistent that it stood for the tech company, not the fruit and 'app' for the games he plays on his tablet.

Yes, he has his own tablet. One that's for children and has all the apps and games a four-year-old could ever want. He can also unlock my phone to watch videos of his school's nativity play and take pictures.

I am sure people will tut at this interest (I will not call it dependence) in technology and try to make a case for 'wholesome' fun for children outdoors. But, you see he is also interested in Narhwals (the whale species from the Arctic), knows the difference between a walrus, a sea otter and a manatee and had finished watching all of David Attenborough's Human Planet and Africa documentaries on Netflix (the streaming service) before he turned four.

Technology has brought the outside to him, in a format and style that he finds easy to grasp.

And all this by virtue of a £99 tablet.

Technology, in the form of mobile phones and tablets has brought such seamless communication, understanding and education into our homes it is difficult to imagine a world without it.

It was mobile phones and tablets that gave a glimpse of the 'Arab summer' to the outside world and it was phone based social media activity that brought the Syrian refugee crisis into our living rooms. And on a more personal note, allows me to FaceTime my Nan in India, who I, otherwise, get to see once every two years.

It is easy to dismiss technology as a bane but if you stop to think and look around you, you will realise how deeply important it is, and with it, the industry that powers it.

From the moment you meet someone, to whether you end up walking into the sunset hand-in-hand or with your mates at a pub drowning your sorrows - the life cycle of all our relationships are played out using technology. So don't you think it is a bit late to question whether we need technology or not? The conversation to have now is - how can we use it more to make our lives easier, more fun and a little bit less toxic for the world we live in...

After an inordinate amount of binge-eating over the Christmas break, I am now keeping a beady eye on my calorie intake via a fitness app; my smartwatch prompts me to stand up and walk every hour and at the end of each day, I check my daily progress on my phone.

I went to the launch of a dating app recently, that measures the heartbeat of a person when they view profile pictures and then use the data to send them more matches that quicken their pulse.

My colleague has a device that lets him monitor the level of pollution at ground level during his long walk into work, in turn feeding the national data servers that monitor pollution.

But all this reliance also comes at a price: I forgot to update my card details on my watch and couldn't pay for my lunch using Apple Pay recently. On holiday, while being solely reliant on the GPS, we almost drove our car into a lane where two cats couldn't walk abreast and my son's teacher was very unamused when he took his smartwatch into school for 'Show and Tell'.

Whether we like it or not, technology is here and is now an inherent part of what we do, how we do it and who finds out about it and this is what brings me to Phone Shop Idol...

Over the summer of 2015 I filmed a documentary for BBC Two about a competition that has been going for more than a decade- to find and commend the best mobile phone retailer in the country. On the face of it, this may seem trivial, but it isn't the same as matching the best accessories to your outfit (although, god knows that's important too!) because mobile phones and tablets lie at the heart of all our interactions these days. And so it is very important to match the right product to the right person.

From suggesting an accessible device for a silver surfer or a phablet (a phone that's so big, it is almost a tablet) for someone who is always working on the go. These boys and girls on the high-street do a very important job- bringing what's important to us closer to us, in fact, sticking it in our hands.

And that needs to be applauded, alongside technology, until it starts running our lives - Skynet like. That's when you start running...

Watch Phone Shop Idol BBC Two Tuesday 19th January 10pm

Sunetra is the Editor of Mobile Choice magazine