Don’t get too excited, I’m not talking about using your phone as a sex toy.  But, I am deeply interested in the relationship we have formed with our phones.  In the past, technology was mechanical, and cold, something clearly outside of an intimate relationship.  Our relationship with technology was primarily utilitarian; we used technology as a tool.

But all of that changed with the release of the iPhone in 2007.  This new “phone” was actually a toy, a social play thing, a tool, an organizer, an entertainer, and many other things that were not formerly part of an integrated mobile device that we carried with us everywhere.

As I see it, we have rapidly changed our relationship with our “phones” since that time. I believe that more and more people have an intimate relationship with their phones.  Not a pathological or unhealthy relationship, but a close and trusting relationship.

Why do I care?  I care about understanding this relationship because I believe strongly that apps on our phones can be used to to help us help ourselves to make our lives better.  Particularly, I’m fascinated with mental health and wellness.  Why would I think that mental health would be an appropriate topic for an app?  Well check this out.

In a study done by Healthline in 2011, they found that people used their phones to conduct searches for health topics that they were not willing to do on their computers.  Let that sink in for a bit, and now let’s look at their results.

The top health-related searches on a mobile device were:

  1. Chlamydia
  2. Bipolar disorder
  3. Depression
  4. Smoking/quit smoking
  5. Gout
  6. Scabies
  7. Multiple Sclerosis
  8. Pregnancy
  9. Thyroid
  10. Vitamin A

The top health-related searches coming from a computer browser:

  1. Cancer
  2. Diabetes
  3. Symptom
  4. Pain
  5. Weight
  6. Infection
  7. Virus
  8. Diet
  9. Thyroid
  10. Sleep

People are willing to make personal INTIMATE searches on their mobile devices, that they would not make on their own computers.  This is very telling about the relationship we have with our phones.

I hope you can see why I am so passionate about developing mobile apps to help people with mental health and wellness.  My apps are designed to help you help yourself.  We take the “friend in your pocket” perspective on how we want you to interact with our apps.

Check out the latest app in development here.

Cynthia Phelps, PhD