A heavy gambler and a smartphone zombie cross the road. Will they reach the other side with limbs intact? It sounds like a joke made in bad taste but, as it turns out, the joke is on us, and it carries the blast of a reality check.
Gadget-obsessed pedestrians and cyclists have invaded the city landscape, driven by a virulent smartphone craze into trees, street signs, wet cement, sleeping dogs, off the sidewalk and in front of passing cars and trams.
Germany even invented a word for the unfortunate victims of this widely-reported global outbreak of smartphone addiction. They’re called “smombies”. And their numbers make for an entire generation.
Authorities are tackling the issue by introducing helpful traffic aids, specifically designed to catch the smombie’s field of vision- which is just 5% of what their eyes take in normally, a study shows.
Are mobile casinos joining the new smombie era?
World War Generation Z: Smombies On The Rise
Following in the footsteps of Millennials’ analogue addictions, Generation Z is busy developing their own bad habits.
The babies of the future instinctively yearn for a touchscreen before their mothers’ milk while first graders are already managing complex networks of online accounts and social media profiles displaying the vicious skills of the PR Mad Men of the past.
Even baby boomers live a belated love affair with their digital devices.
If you don’t carry a smartphone around, you’re the odd man out. By the most recent statistics from 2014, you would belong to the minorities. Only 40% of the world’s population didn’t have access to a smart device back then.
The laws of accelerating change, specifically applied to the mobile field, would have the numbers of smart-enabled devices rise to almost omnipresence by 2020. In her book, The Power of Off, NYC psychotherapist Nancy Colier warns about the unintended negative consequences of smartphone reliance.
Her findings show that the average user can’t keep off their phone for more than 6 minutes, sending as many as 100 messages a day.
Some mental health groups are already lobbying to introduce tech-addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders.
Online gambling being on the rise, we can safely assume that the digital lanes will also lead all those users interested in iGaming to a virtual Strip. The Las Vegas of mobile gambling.
Gambling and Smartphones, Two Addictions Colliding
Land-based casinos are reaching outwards to the home-bound or desk-dwelling gambler. You’d be hard-pressed to find even the most established and reputable brick-and-mortar gambling venues without an online presence.
Moreover, where governments pushed gambling into illegality or authorities enforced a casino prohibition, online operators filled the gaps.
It makes sense, right? If the gamer is suffering from lack of travel funds or government restrictions, the smartphone remains an easily accessible option to hit the reels.
ESports is another growing phenomenon that brings heavy revenue to the industry, some $493 million in 2016, according to a Newzoo report. It’s expected to rise to a whopping $1.488 billion by 2020.
And whilst VR may still be niche, online gambling operators have already embarked on a crusade to tie gaming sector to the technological breakthroughs in augmented reality.
To test their bona fide plans, simply follow the key debates of global casino summits such as GiGse 2017 and you’ll be given a clear insight into the future trends of digital gambling.
Or whip out your app store and you’ll be sifting through an endless menu of slots and roulettes, baccarat tournaments and live poker games.
Software providers focus on improving smartphone-friendly interfaces. TakeBonus.com, for instance, allows users to gamble actual money or access no-deposit bonuses for more than 5000 casinos. The options span five continents.
Mobile casinos may be stealing the show- and hooray for the investors who moved fast enough to get a slice of the pie- but gamblers’ self-preservation instinct is slowly losing ground to suicidal somnabulism.
Paradoxically, our smartphones – a powerful tool for urban survival and a symbol of the 4.0 industrial revolution- are turning us into social zombies. And, needless to say, a traffic pest.
How would Brad Pitt deal with a smombie outbreak?
We moved beyond doubt. The smombie plague has begun and Brad Pitt, busy as he is dealing with a post-break-up photo shoot for GQ, seems to suffer from his own disarray to mind anything else.
As chaos spreads in the big cities, authorities experiment with social policies that come in aid of the smombies. According to the different local excentricities, some are wackier than others.
Chongqing in China opened a 165-foot long sidewalk lane for smartphone users alone. It’s painted in white spray and reads “for busy people”.
In Sweden, two artists created fake traffic signs warning unaffected pedestrians and motorists of smombies. Of all Europeans, Swedes seem to put themselves at risk most.
In the US, states like Utah and New Jersey have been hitting Americans where they hurt most. Their pockets. In recent years, the state transit authorities here have introduced fines of up to $50 for distracted walkers.
Official UK government figures in 2014 note that 446 pedestrian deaths were caused by ‘lack of attention’.
“Whether on two feet, two wheels or four, too many people are suffering from Smartphone Oblivion”, says a report of the AA, which also mentions that 72% of drivers and cyclists often see pedestrians, eyes-glued to their smartphones and headphones on, walking off the pavement in front of incoming traffic.
As for the head-down tribes of the Netherlands and Germany, traffic safety groups have installed pavement light strips at busy intersections. The colors signal the change in traffic lights – green for go, red for stop- but they do this from the ground to catch the eye of the people being engrossed in their smartphones, zombified by the online turn of the wheel. Are you gambling for money or for your life?