If you hadn't heard, Louis C.K. will not be getting his daughters smartphones.
“I think these things are toxic, especially for kids,” the comedian told Conan O'Brien. "They don't look at people when they talk to them and they don't build empathy.”
We're with him, in some regard. We rely on our devices more than ever before, and these devices are increasingly taking us out of the real world. Even in dreamland, we're hooked: According to a recent HuffPost/YouGov survey, 63 percent of smartphone users age 18-29 admit to drifting off to sleep with a cell phone. And 50 percent of the same demographic take their smartphones to the bathroom (ew).
But we aren't sure that shunning our smartphones is the answer -- perhaps we just need to reframe the purpose of our use. We might be overlooking the many simple pleasures that technology has made more accessible in our day to day (and, dare we say, enhanced). Take, for example, the post card: When seemingly nobody takes the time to find, write and send one any more, there's an app that's made this kind of old-fashioned joy relevant again. Below, discover a few of these gadgets that have helped to revive a certain kind of endangered, old-timey fun.
Write with a pen again.
Remember that time you wrote with your hand? And used a physical pen? With ink?iSketchnote offers your handwritten notes, sketches and doodles a bit of insurance: You're less likely to lose or spill a cup of coffee on your masterpiece, as the hardcopy is instantly saved in digital form on your iPad. If you're the type who thrives creatively when you've got a pen in your hand, this app, which has exceeded its goal of $35,000 on Kickstarter, might help you get your juices flowing.
Get lost -- and found.
In the olden days, people used compasses and maps to find their way around -- they didn't have a Siri or a GPS system to detail every single step. There's a certain sense of accomplishment in being able to get yourself somewhere. And when it's the journey, not the destination that counts, gadgets like CompassApp and Compass PRO can help bring out your inner Magellan.
Look up at the stars.
Star-gazing is a timeless activity that only becomes more fun when you know what you're talking about. Luckily, you won't have to lug an astronomy book outside to distinguish the Big Dipper from its little brother. Apps like SkEye and Star Walk help you to identify constellations in the universe, making the vast unknown a little more comprehensible.
Let someone know you're thinking of them.
There's such joy in receiving a postcard from a traveling friend, but this pleasure seems to present itself less and less in our digital age (an email or a one-click uploaded Facebook album seems to be the more convenient route). Postagram transforms your favorite digitally snapped photos into a real life post card. For 99 cents, anyone with the app can send a customized, hard copy note to family and friends -- snail mail style -- without ever stepping foot into the post office.
Identify a real life tweet.
Bird watching is a pastime of many creative brains, including Paul McCartney, Wes Craven and Jimi Goodwin. These types may find a certain meditative property in observing the simple delicacy of an animal in flight. You, too can, revive this old-fashioned hobby with tools like BirdsEye and iBird, which ease the identifying process.