Throughout the years we have seen how mobile phones have evolved into an integral part our lives – for some, almost impossible to live without. Whether they’re used for making calls, texting, watching videos, searching the internet, interacting on social media or doing some shopping, we have all have been part of this growing era.
In 2017, 68% of U.S. adults had a smartphone in the U.S., and that number is expected to grow to 92.8% by 2020. With so much we can do on our mobile phones, it’s no wonder that each year the number of adults with smartphones increases. As of 2017, about 77% of the Hispanic population in the U.S. owned a smartphone.
With increased use of smartphones among Hispanics, we cannot exclude the idea of migrant and seasonal farmworkers using one to communicate with distant loved ones or entertain themselves while away from their families. Through AFOP Health & Safety Programs data, we have gathered information on the number of workers using smartphones and what they use them for. About 90% of workers interviewed in 2017 stated having a smartphone, and 76% of those said that they used it to communicate with other workers and growers to find work. Most growers use their smartphones to order supplies, recruit, answer emails, and market their produce.
Like in many work sectors, the use of mobile technology in agriculture promises an effective method of information exchange. Farmworkers and growers are using smartphones not only to communicate with loved ones, but as vital tool to check weather conditions, confirm that a grain cart is still transferring its payload, find jobs, listen to music while working, and communicate between employees and supervisors.
Last year AgHELP developed a new FREE app for farmworkers that indicates what farms across the country are hiring. The app is user friendly and available in three languages (English, Spanish, Haitian-Creole). It’s a perfect tool for those workers migrating from state to state because it allows agricultural workers to proactively search for jobs in any part of the country. Jobs offers and details are guaranteed and enforceable by law. Users can search for worker resources, and access is provided to local and national agencies who support agriculture workers.
We cannot deny that smartphones are one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. They have created new methods to work, communicate and interact with others in a portable way that even desktop computers could never do. However, with such a wealth of information at our fingertips, sometimes disconnecting from technology helps us reconnect with our surroundings and love ones. From March 9th to March 10th, sundown-to-sundown, is the National Day of Unplugging. On this day we are encouraged to shut down technology so that we ourselves can reboot and step back from the distraction technology brings to our lives.
Since the pledge is from sundown-to-sundown, there are steps you can take before disconnecting to avoid disrupting responsibilities. Here are some tips to unplug fully and responsibly:
- Try to finish any pending tasks before 6pm of March 9th (it’s a Friday evening, so maybe you’re already done!) This will help you stop thinking about having to email someone, or stress about an upcoming problem.
- If you are a farmworker searching for jobs, do your research and connections ahead of time.
- Plan out activities you enjoy during your unplugging.
- Discuss with your family your plan of unplugging and encourage them to join in. If everyone is in the same boat, you can plan more technology-free activities together.
- If you need to wake up early, set a traditional alarm. Avoid using your phone.
- Put your phone out of sight.
- Before disconnecting, give people a heads up. This also helps invite those people to join in!
AFOP Health & Safety will take the pledge in hopes to reboot – charging up to continue fighting for the farmworker community, and raising awareness about the issues that affect the agricultural population.
Will you disconnect on March 9-10? Take the pledge and get a free cell phone sleeping bag.