A little more than ten years ago, the iPhone burst onto the market with more ferocity and popularity than any previous product launch in recent memory. While critics complained about everything from the size to the price tag, people lined up around the block in hopes of acquiring one of these beautiful machines, appropriately dubbed smartphones. As time went on, iPhones and Androids slowly became an integral part of everyday life. That is, of course, unless you ask a politician.
Earlier this week, Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz made a statement on CNN that has ruffled more than a few feathers. In essence, Chaffetz insisted that financially struggling households should forego frivolously spending money on smartphones, iPhones in particular, and instead prioritize healthcare.
“Americans have choices,” Chaffetz said. “So maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own healthcare.”
Politicians of all shapes, sizes, and parties have made this claim, including former President Barack Obama. But, politics and price tags aside, claiming smartphones are not vital to everyday life is flat out wrong. In the today's digital age, smartphones are a necessity, not a luxury. According to a study from the Pew Research Center:
“Today nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and 19 percent of Americans rely to some degree on a smartphone for accessing online services and information and for staying connected to the world around them — either because they lack broadband at home, or because they have few options for online access other than their cell phone.”
Those numbers alone should be more than enough proof that smartphones have become essential to performing everyday tasks. Whether you're applying for a job, looking up information about a job, or doing online banking, which 18 percent, 43 percent, and 57 percent of users have done on a smartphone respectively, these pocket-sized devices have done more than made life easier; they've completely changed the way things get done.
This necessity becomes even more dire for financially struggling households. The study showed that 13 percent of individuals in households earning less than $30,000 a year are smartphone-dependent (without broadband at home and lack a viable secondary option), opposed to only 1 percent of individuals in households earning more than $75,000 a year.
“Those with relatively low income and educational attainment levels, younger adults, and non-whites are especially likely to be smartphone-dependent,” wrote the authors of the study.
It's not 2008 anymore. Smartphones are no longer luxury items that your spoiled, 15-year-old cousin got for his birthday. They aren't only found in extravagant celebrity gift bags at the Oscars after party. And most importantly, they're not an optional expenditure for anyone hoping to thrive in a professional capacity. Smartphones are a necessity. Get over it.