President Ader – Photo: MTI

Ader discusses dangers of smart devices in podcast

On his Blue Planet (Kek bolygo) podcast streamed on Monday, Janos Ader, Hungary's former president, discussed the impact of smart devices on mental health with Roman Catholic priest Ferenc Pal.

“Protecting our own and our children’s mental wellbeing is just as important as protecting waters, the Earth and living things,” Ader said.

Pal, who is also a mental health aide, said using smart devices was not a problem as long as people are “smart” about how they use them. But, he said, these devices have begun to “take control of” people and in some cases becoming an addiction similar to alcohol.

“And just as it took time for alcoholism to be classified as a disease, now that we’re all more or less dependent on our smart devices we don’t want to admit it, even though we show signs of addiction,” Pal said. “We feel an irresistible desire for the object or our addiction; we just can’t switch it off.”

He said evolution had made man sensitive to information because it was at one point a matter of life and death. But evolution was not prepared for smart devices “and the amount of information it floods us with”, Pal added.

Children, he said, were even more vulnerable to smart devices. Citing a study from the UK, Pal said British middle-class children showed similar symptoms of chronic stress to residents of refugee camps. This, he said, was caused by the use of smart devices.

Meanwhile, Ader warned of the potentially disastrous effects of allowing smart devices to “alienate us from our parents, children and friends”.

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