June 22, 2024

Return of the Dumb Phone


I have a dumb phone. 

Phones like it were rendered very uncool at the end of the 2000s when smart phones started flooding the market.

I guess I am uncool - a dumb phone has always been enough for me. 

No internet connection. No social media. No apps to download. No constant on and available.

My flip phone only does voice and text, and that is all I want it to do. 

Most of the time I have it turned off, sometimes for days at a time.

That makes sense as I am a Neo-Luddite, low-tech, anti-surveillance, privacy-seeking, frugal, aging, simple living type.

But why are more and more GenZers opting for the same style of simple phone?

Some similar reasons, as it turns out. 

Mostly, though, to rid one's life of meaningless and potentially harmful digital distractions.

An increasing number of young people have concerns with privacy (or the lack of it), are burning out on the perpetual connectivity, and are digitally detoxing. 

Dumb phones, as a result, are increasing in sales, a form of reverse progress.

It turns out that those expensive, complicated, overbuilt, intrusive, smartypants phones may not be that smart for users of any age, but especially children and teens.

Research has shown that children without smart phones generally do better on a variety of factors than those with the devices. The longer a child delays adopting a smartphone, the better the outcomes.

Excessive screen time on mobile devices can result in a number of negative side effects for users of any age, including "sleep disorders, reduced glucose tolerance, increased blood pressure, and increased inflammatory markers".

Wait - there is more! 

Anxiety, stress, and "reduced social connectivity". 

Also, decreased attention spans, and the dreaded Cell Phone Neck Syndrome, a common repetitive stress injury from constantly looking down at The Screen.

As if that isn't enough, there is also the fact that smart phones are essentially data mining devices. And your data is the mine being exploited. 

Your personal data, which some people think you should own outright, is worth multi-billions to website owners and advertisers. 

The personal data for 18–24-year-olds is more sought after than any other demographic. 

The are The Target. 

Big Data wants your info in order to convince you to open your wallet through subtle digital manipulation.

Dumb phones are a way people can fight back and quit supporting Big Data, and social media platforms that are made purposefully addictive.

I hope Gen Z is actually simplifying, because that would be great for everyone. 

A smartphone costs a small fortune, while a dumb phone comes in at a fraction of the price.

More likely though, a Gen Zer will have two phones - a smart phone for when they want to be connected, and a dumb phone when they want to take a break.

Perhaps the dumb phone will help them see the light, and they will lead the way for the rest of society in tossing the "smarter" variety and relying solely on the "dumb" one.

When we limit our exposure to the digital dystopia, we begin to build healthier relationships in our communities where the real things that directly affect our lives are actually happening.

That is a good thing, for GenZ, and everyone else.

What is your phone? 

Smart, or dumb. 

Or both? 

Or neither? 


  1. Anonymous6/23/2024

    I think they are called feature phones. I have a feature phone that I turn on once a day after work in case my wife needs something. I don't want to be too connected and don't like getting random calls. There are big concerns with big tech.

    1. Anonymous6/23/2024

      I am so uncool I don't even know what they are called. I like dumb phone, or flip phone. It is funny that they are calling them feature phones even though they have fewer features. The biggest feature would be less intrusion on one's life.

      I also do not like random calls, or knocks at the door. Email or text is my preference.

      Maybe my next phone will be a landline. Rotary dial.

      - Gregg

    2. Anonymous6/23/2024

      Email is definitely my preferred choice.

  2. I reluctantly have a smart phone, and they are 100% addictive. I do not have social media though, and haven't for years-unless you count anonymously scrolling on Reddit or Youtube sometimes?! I worry hard for our youth and their relationship with phones and tech in general. It is VERY hard to fight against the norm in this area. I do- but it is a constant discussion about what is reasonable and what I think is not. In our home we don't have phones until college- so 13/14. No Social Media until at least 14 and then I have it monitored heavily though parental controls and they are only allowed to friend actual people they know in 'real life'. I also made them sign a contract before they get a phone and adhere to the rules around usage (you can ironically find these online lol). No X, no Tikitok, no FB...ever. No using phones behind closed doors, no phones in the bedroom at night, no usage at the dinner table etc...but still, it's the ONE part of parenting that I find most challenging as smart phones and tech simply are a reality unfortunately. At the start I was constantly fighting against parents and families who just give kids phones at the age of 10 and free rein on the internet because it's so much easier to do that. A few years in now though and I feel like I am growing very responsible young adults who are now aware of the dangers and distractions of smart phones/tech as well as the benefits of them as a tool that THEY are in control of.

  3. I had to give up my flip phone for the dreaded smart phone in 2020 for my job. I don't use it for anything other than calls, texts, occasional photo and checking the weather. I still use my laptop for everything else. It is off most of the time when I'm not at work and I usually leave it behind. As soon as I can retire, it is gone.

  4. Unfortunately I need a smart phone for work. There is a schedule app, and co-workers want to Whatsapp me. But I refuse to pay extra for mobile internet on it. At home I have free wifi, as well as in the Man's appartment. It's sometimes handy because I can use email there without having to bring my laptop along. Or make Facebook messages for the thrift shop I volunteer for (I run the account). Out on jobs I lift along on the work system wifi. If it doesn't work sometime shops nearby offer free wifi. If not, too bad. On the road, no internet. No Whatsapp. If they really need to reach me they can call. Btw way the Man doesn't even want a dumb phone: he has a land line.


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