Star Trek is one of my favorite sci-fi series. It’s amazing how many of the props used in the different shows and movies have actually become reality.

However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Capts. Kirk or Picard read their communicator or tablet while in a briefing with their top officers, playingWord with Friends or texting Spock and Data.

It seems more and more peo­ple are staring down into their smartphone or tablet, ignoring everyone around them.

I’ve even seen these effects in my own Family.

Last weekend, my brothers traveled to Hope Mills to cel­ebrate my father’s 75th birthday. While gathered at my father’s house, the ‘real-time’ conver­sations between my Family members ended up being very chaotic. There were three or four discussions going on at once, along with intermittent texting and web-surfing.

At the end of the evening, I had a headache from trying to follow everyone.

The only reason I noticed a group of five adults periodically stare at their phones or tablet and type a message, check the Internet or play a game, was because my phone battery was

almost dead.

Since the first text messages appeared in 1994, people in the United States send and receive an average of six billion a day or 69,635 text messages every second.

Text messaging is a great way to send a quick message to a friend or let your spouse know you’re on your way home.

There is something to say about the amazing abilities of smartphones. It’s a gateway to the information highway. You can find your way around town, pick a restaurant, book a hotel, take photos, read a book, watch a movie, catch the latest head­lines

and kill evil pigs all on one

de vice.

But do we have to stare into that tiny screen most of the day?

There has to be health issues at­tached to frequently bending your neck to see the screen and using your thumbs to text.

There is also the danger of be­ing distracted while driving, walk­ing or anything else that requires full concentration, both eyes and hands.

What about the psychological aspects of living by the smart­phone?

Many people in the Genera­tion Y category who use mostly word-only forms of communica­tion may have trouble reading social cues such as hand gestures, postures, eye movements and shifts in personal space, according towhocalledmyphone.net.

The website also mentions

stress symptoms such as head­aches, lack of energy, change in appetite and other issues increase as more and more people blur personal and work life with their smar tphone.

Smartphones have become so addicting to some people, that 80 percent of smartphone users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up.

According to a 5,000-person global survey administered by Qualcomm and Time, 68 percent of those surveyed said they even sleep with their smartphones next to them.

I admit that I am addicted to my phone. I love having instant access to find out about anything from movies to how many pints are in a gallon. However, I do have my limits.

I turn my phone off during meetings or if I’m interacting with others. There’s nothing more annoying than trying to get a person’s attention when they have their phone glued to their ear.

I also hate hearing the phone ring or buzz during dinner. This is why smartphones have voice mail and save our text messages.

So how can we keep this valu­able, yet addicting, tool from tak­ing over our sanity and our lives?

“By design, it’s an environ­ment of almost constant inter­ruptions and distractions. The smartphone, more than any other gadget, steals from us the opportunity to maintain our attention, to engage in contem­plation and reflection, or even to

be alone with our thoughts,” said Nicholas Carr, author of “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.”

Human beings’ primitive, deep desire to know what is going on all the time is one of the reasons the smartphone is so alluring, said Carr.

If you do want to spend some time away from your smart­phone, here are some tips from

WebM

D.com: