Whythe Growth of Technology Has Resulted In A Shift From PhysicalInteraction To Technology-Based Communication
Impactof Technology on Physical Interaction
Technologyis a powerful tool being used by modern society to entertain,communicate and educate. Without denying, the growth of technologyhas had creative innovative ways of communicating, as well as,altered the way individuals communicate. While this modern technologyhas benefits like dissemination, speed, and convenience, its negativeconsequences cannot be overlooked.
Therefore,this paper is going to prove on what research indicates thattechnological advancement is harmful to social growth because it hascaused a significant decline of physical communication, a negativeshift in family dynamics, and an overreliance on technology whenforming new relationships.
Nowhereis the effect of technology on people’s relationships more feltthan in households. Technology has changed the way families functionat home. Villegras (2013) defined a family as the agent ofsocialization and the primary source of influence on the formation ofpersonality and the growth of a child,” (p 5). Family time has beenhistorically viewed as an integral part of the promotion anddevelopment of a close-knit family (Villegas, 2013). However, withthe advent of schools, work and technology family time has become toomarginalized.
Developmentof modern communication technology has led to increased access andgreater use of technology. Nearly all of the daily activities entailsome sort of media and technology, such as email, Facebook,messaging, phone calls and television (Villegas, 2013). Given thatover 66% of children are having access to mobile phones,communication technology has become part of individuals (Villegas,2013). The length of time people now spend immersed in social mediais astonishing. According to Villegas, spend approximately 7 hoursper day, on average, engaged with social media. These increasedlevels of engagement can result in over-working, and socialisolation. The amount of technological communication devices likesmartphones, personal computers and TV sets in households haveincreased and contributed to changes in family dynamics (Villegas,2013).
Themanner in which parents use social media and technology influence thedynamics and structure of family time, particularly at home. It doesaway with personal interaction in which parents are seen usingtechnology to serve as the babysitter. Some parents go to the extentof giving their children tablets or Smartphones to thwart themcausing disturbance whilst in social settings.
Technologyhas contributed to an increasing divide between the primary rolesplayed by family members. Both parents and children are guilty ofcausing this technological divide. Parents can be seen preoccupiedwith their devices, either checking emails, updating some pictures onfacebook, tweeting, conversing on their mobile devices or watchingtheir favorite TV programs when they are supposed to be connectingwith, playing with or talking to their children (Villegas, 2013). Ontheir part, children have become immersed in technology, from playingcomputer games to texting, chatting on Facebook, tweeting andtexting. This has limited their availability to interact with parentsin a meaningful way. Furthermore, technology has given childrenfreedom in their interactions with peers and friends and parents havebeen eliminated as gatekeepers for the social lives of theirchildren. Children view this divide as an independence from intrusionand over-involvement on their social lives by parents. Thisdistancing has profound ramifications. Less connection implies thathouseholds are incapable of building maintaining strong familyrelationships (Villegas, 2013). In addition to that, there is lesssharing, and thus parents have less power to impose influence ontheir children. Because there is less connection parents are notable to provide appropriate guidance and supervision over theirchildren.
Technology,and particularly media, serves various purposes includingcommunication and entertainment. People use technology to connect orcommunicate with others. While digital technologies and the internetare used as social gadgets to communicate and connect with otherpeople, they also hinder social involvement and interaction withthose people in close proximity (Villegas, 2013). Though socialtechnology has made our life easier to connect with others, the sametechnology has caused problems by rendering communication less formaland less effective. Greater use of technology leads to decline incommunication within a family. Evidence suggests that the internetand computer result in reduced face-to-face social interaction(Chasombat, 2014). The Internet serves to isolate individuals and cutoff true social relationships socially. The rapid progression oftechnological developments is negatively influencing familyrelations. Mobile media, the internet, and television are affectingthe ways in which families socialize and consequently, theirrelationships. It is true that technological tools enable familymembers to keep up with distant sibling or parents, especially whenparents are at home and children in college. For example, Skype hasmade it easier to connect and maintain long distance relationship(Villegas, 2013). By so doing, it promotes family relationshipsoutside of the home. However, the fact remains that social technologyhas changed family dynamics in negative ways in that it is linked toa reduction in social involvement. Technology fosters improvisedrelationships, distancing between family members and isolation ofmembers within families. Instead of promoting connectedness, itpromotes isolation (Villegas, 2013).
Mediatechnology at mealtime hinders family togetherness. Technologygadgets, TV, and gizmos can be a great source of distraction duringfamily mealtime. Mealtime provides a special opportunity for familymembers to share ideas, stories, feelings and thoughts and formmeaningful relationships (Drusell, 2012). Family mealtimes are theright venue for a family to establish traditions and enhancetogetherness. Eating together promotes the child’s physical,academic, emotional and social development.
Researchhas shown that 64% of children live in households where thetelevision is watched during mealtimes (Villegas, 2013). Watchingtelevision during family mealtime is a real distraction as it makesit hard for members of the family to engage in talks, exchange ideasand thoughts. As a result, watching TV at mealtime prevents importantfamily bonds and connections. It is not the only TV that isdistracting but also other media gadgets, such as listening to musicon mobile phones, texting, and eating while playing computer gamesare harmful to the development of the family system.
Individualsseem more obsessed with technology than people who are at closeproximity. Children often complain that parents are more preoccupiedwith their Smartphones while they pay less attention to the children.Internet and technology do not help children to connect and interactwith their families whilst at home it rather distracts them fromface-to-face interactions.
McGrath(2012) argues that new media technology is having a profound effecton the society. McGrath observed his family home and noted theinfluence new technology is having on families. The researcher alsoobserved how communication between members of the family is revolvingaround new technologies like mp3 players, laptop, multiple televisionand mobile phones. The researcher supervised two schools adolescents,3-days a week and discovered the significant role new media plays inthe lives of these school children. McGrath’s investigationconfirmed that technology is an integral part of the family, in whichevery household member is preoccupied with some sort of mediatechnologies. New media technologies at home enhance socialcommunication among children and enable parents to teach theirchildren how to use technology for learning and life social skills(McGrath, 2015).
McGrath(2015) does not deny that new media technologies are assisting infamily interactions by bringing family members and generationstogether. McGrath is critical of the fact that the same technologieswithin families are contributing to an increasing privatizationwithin the family life as individuals tend to use technologyindependently as opposed to collectively. A family system has acollective identity that results from shared memories oftogetherness. Family togetherness is created when household membersspend quality time together in interacting, shared meals and games(McGrath, 2015). Communication is a process of creating sharedmeanings. It also plays a vital role in relationships between membersfor the effective family functioning.
Declinein Physical Communication
Socialtechnologies have overcome the obstacles of time and place and becamepart of the way individuals communicate with others who live far.Technology has become a great tool of communication for commuting andconnecting with friends and family living distant places (Drago,2015). It has substituted face-to-face communication rather thancomplimenting it. One needs to look around social setting and thereal world and observe the effect of technology on our society. Onecan be surprised to see expressionless faces of people on walks,quiet train commutes, and silent tables on restaurants. All thesesuggest a disconnection in which communication technology distractspersons from the interaction opportunities before them.
Technologyand media lessen face-to-face communication. Because of technologicaladvances, people have become immersed in the digital world that theyare totally missing in the real social world (Drago, 2015). Vevere(2015) has found that the use of mobile communication gadgets insocial contexts is detrimental to interpersonal communication andhuman relationships. These gadgets have negative impacts on theconversation, closeness, and connection, particularly when people areinvolved in personally meaningful conversations.
Today’syoung people use communication technology more than face-to-facecommunication to socialize and communicate. Al-Khaddam (2013)analyzed the effects of social networks on the interpersonalinteraction of college girls. The author found that the use of socialnetworking sites like Facebook affects interpersonal communication.
Overrelianceon technology for communication and connecting can cause a sense ofbusyness and loneliness. Studies have reported the negative impactstechnology has on intimacy, body-to-body sociability andpsychological wellbeing. The increased use of technology has adisplacement impact on close physical interaction. Internet usagelacks both environmental and nonverbal cues that characterizeface-to-face interaction, which makes an individual feel lonely anddisconnected (Brown, 2013).
Manypeople often communicate with family or friends through technologyrather than through face-to-face communication (Sommer, 2013). Thissuggests that physical communication has declined both in quantityand quality. As the use of social technology that enables individualsto communicate and interact digitally increases, physical interactiondecreases. Decline in face-to-face communication may result in socialintimacy issues (infusion of private and public spaces). Mobile mediaand technology have blurred lines between a real world and onlineworlds.
Strongsocial bonds are the basic relations that buffer individuals fromstresses of life, which in turn result in between psychological andsocial outcomes. However, the greater access and use of social mediaand the reduced importance of physical closeness has made social tiesto falter.
Face-to-faceor physical conversations are declining because of the amount of timeused on technology. Today, when a person finds a face-to-faceconversation boring, they turn to their technological devices. Peopleare becoming more obsessed on communicating and connecting withfamily and friends via technology, even when they are very close(Sommer,2013).While it increases the quantity of communication, technology servesto degrade the quality of conversations. Some individuals areconcerned or bothered when family or friends use social technologywhilst spending quality time together.
Socialtechnology has also impacted non-verbal communication. It is commonto find young people lacking important interpersonal skills likeexpressing thoughts and ideas to others via face-to-faceconversations. Communication technology hampers non-verbalcommunication such as body language and facial expressions (Vevere,2015).
Theimpact of social media on the people’s ability to communicate isvisible in all aspects of the society. Social media influences howindividuals engage and interact with one another. There has been aparadigm shift in the manner in which people communicate, wherebyindividuals prefer mediated communication over face-to-facecommunication, prefer email to meeting and text rather thancommunicate on the phone (Vevere, 2015).
Socialmedia have made people more interactive and more social with others.However, the style of communication has been altered in that peopleare no longer meeting face-to-face. That said, social mediainteractions have weak ties in which individuals do not feelpersonally connected as compared to face-to-face communication. Thus,while communicating more people are not essentially formingrelationships as strongly.
Onepotentially downbeat corollary of social media and networks is adearth of privacy. Social networking sites are effective tools forforming new social contexts and for infringing on them. Asinterpersonal communication and interaction are changing, people arefinding themselves more willing to share the kind of information theywould not have previously not shared in physical interaction. Thesame social media that contributes to faster, convenience andconnected communication also contributes to the loss of one`s privacy(Vevere, 2015).
Vevere(2015) offers that social media has both negative and positiveimpacts on communication. The negative impacts include weakening offamily bonds and intrusion into privacy. On the positive note, socialmedia helps bridge the communication gap, enables a faster exchangeof ideas and information, effective tool of communication, aneffective marketing tool, an instrument of time management and anessential source of information.
Al-Khaddam(2013) surveyed the effect of social networking sites (Facebook) oninterpersonal interaction. The researcher found statisticallysignificant associations between the “use of Facebook andinterpersonal contact with the family and others and the number ofhours of using Facebook and interpersonal contact with the familymembers and others,” (18). Al-Khaddam found that though socialnetworks make it easier for people to interact with others, itreduces the interactions of families.
Excessiveexposure to social networking sites and the internet may interferewith interpersonal skills development (Chasombat, 2014).Interpersonal communication is essential in developing andmaintaining relationships with family and friends. While social mediaoffers many benefits, people who depend on virtual onlinerelationships tend to lose the ability to engage with others in thereal social world. When face-to-face communication is eliminated, theinterpersonal communication and relational skills of young people areharmed. This can have a profound negative effect on familyrelationships, employment and socialization (Chasombat, 2014).Drussel (2012) has expressed concerns about the negative impacts ofthe internet on young adults and their potential dangers to thewell-being, skill development and safety.
Theoverreliance on social media as a tool for communication andinteraction among young generations along with the reduction inface-to-face interaction limits the development of problem solvingand conflict resolution skills. Given that responses to virtualconflict situations are no different to responses made in the realsocial world, overreliance on technology for communication will leadto an inability to deal with real life conflicts. Chasombat (2014)has found that young people who have close virtual relationshipsexperience more conflicts and are less likely to reach out to theirparents when in serious trouble. Their ineffective or lack ofproblem-solving skills serve to compromise their safety and mayresult in violent acts (Chasombat, 2014).
Socialnetworking sites allow users to virtually communicate and connectwith others as though they are meeting face-to-face. Because virtualinteraction does not need the physical presence of family andfriends, interpersonal behaviors, cues and signals that characterizeface-to-face interactions are eradicated (Drussell, 2012). Nonverbalcues are essential as they help identify emotions and clarifymeaning in conversations. Moreover, young people tend to take onlinevirtual relationships more seriously to the extent of equating itwith real life relationship. They go an extra mile to trusting onlinerelationships and tend to be more concerned about it than their reallives. Due to the attached emotions and meanings to these onlinerelationships, interactions in the future turn out to be veryunpredictable.
Researchhas found that excessive internet use among young people leads to lowfriendship quality. It also leads to high risks of social anxiety anddepression because of the restriction in discovery of one’s actuallife environment. When online users fail to solve a conflict bypretending to be obsessed with other issues, they end up feelingdepressed and sad.
Socialmedia is influencing the way people write and speak. Online usersoften use specific symbols, abbreviations, and contradictions intheir everyday interactions. Social media users find it easier to useabbreviations to save time and space. Abbreviations such as TNX(thanks) BTW (by the way), TTYL (talk to you later) and TTG (time togo) are often used to save users time.
Accordingto Chasombat (2014), social networks have both negative and positiveeffects on users. Social media helps in solving conflicts andmisunderstanding between people and maintaining relationships inaddition to virtually bringing people together. However, the samesocial media isolates the loved ones in reality. There are certainfeelings and thoughts people choose to share or text on texts andsocial media networks but physical communication is essential inpersonal conservations.
Withthe majority of people owning smartphones, it is not unsurprising tosee individuals with their heads bowed, deliberately and continuouslynavigating their fingers on the touch-screen to update posts onFacebook, tweet, text or call (Chasombat 2014). Some people purposelydo it to avoid getting into the conversation with others, to appearbusy and for others it has become a regular habit. What theseindividuals do not realize is that they are becoming moredisconnected with the people expecting their attention and lost theart of communication due to their obsession in an attempt to stayconnected. When individuals become too obsessed with their gadgets,they always overlook people around them, who are attempting to have ameaningful conversation. The act or behavior of ignoring a person inpublic by looking busy at your device is called phubbing. Thisantisocial behavior is wrong and is a show of disrespect (Chasombat2014). Phubbing is often observed during human interactions, be itduring mealtimes, lectures, social gatherings or meetings. People whophub often ignore the significance of developing and maintainingrelationships with others by preferring playing with their owndevices over interacting with others.
Chasombat(2014) argues that virtual life experiences overlook the significanceof human interactions necessary for social, psychological andphysical wellbeing. People who spend more time on technology haveless time to spend with their loved ones in the real world.Technology contributes to a decline in the social circle leading tosocial alienation.
Thereis no denying that the internet and social networking sites haveadvantages, especially young people. Drussell (2012) found thatsocial networking sites provide a means through which users learn theskills on how to relate to others, express feelings and thoughts, andtolerate different viewpoints in a positive manner. Interacting onthe internet also enables users to enhance self-discovery and exploreself-identity (Drussell, 2012).
Anotherperceived benefit of interacting on social networking sites is thatpeople are able to stay connected with peers, friends, and co-workersirrespective of distance. In addition to that, they provide a virtualrevue to share objects and thoughts with personal meaning likestories and pictures (Drussell, 2012).
Whileoverreliance on social networking makes people to lose their abilityto communicate with others in person, Drussell (2012) has found thatthese sites make friendships stronger. The majority of users ofsocial networking consider online friendships as important asreal-life friendships. Online friendships are described asmeaningful, trusting and long-term. Social networking can serve as atool to strengthen already existing relationships and improve thesense of closeness.
Drago(2015) surveyed 100 Elon University students to study the effect ofnew media on social interactions. The findings showed that that theadvances in technology are negatively impacting physicalcommunication. Individuals are depending on communicating with familyand friends via technology. According to Drago (2015), they declinedto engage with people in close proximity but prefer to communicatemore on devices. Drago found that most students get obsessed withtheir devices even when in the presence of family and friends (74%).These findings suggest that students communicate less with thesurrounding environment even when family and friends are in front ofthem.
Intheir study, Mieczakowski, Goldhaber, and Clarkson (2011) found thattechnology can be both a facilitator and impediment to communicationin families, workplace, and other social settings. Whilenew media technologies can be used to scaffold social collaboration,they are a major source of social distraction (Mieczakowski,et al, 2011).These researchers posit that people are increasingly becomingdistracted due to that technological devices are have become socialin nature. Such devices alert individuals to text and read messages,and listen to voicemails and trace the location of their friends.
Feelingof control towards technology use is positively associated withwell-being. People who have a strong feeling of control on technologyare more likely to positive interaction with technology. On the otherhand, individuals who feel overwhelmed with technology experiencedecreased wellbeing. Participants in the study by Mieczakowskiet al (2011) reported the positive and negative impacts oftechnology. Technology negatively impacts family closeness andrelationships.
Socialnetworking sites and mobile technology have not enhanced the abilityto resolve issues or conflicts that arise. Online users often usesocial networking sites to interact not to resolve their conflicts.In fact, young adults are more likely to use texting for conflictresolution than facebook. Face-to-face communication remains stillthe preferred mode of conflict resolution. While online interactionsenable individuals to express feelings and thoughts and practicecritical thinking skills, social networking sites are ineffective inresolving conflicts.
Thispaper has successfully examined how technology has shifted familydynamics, contributed to a decline in face-to-face communication andinfluenced the formation of relationships. As social animals, humansrequire quality communication to promote social interaction. Theimportance of social interaction cannot be underestimated as itoffers venues for learning, growing and experiencing the socialworld. While technology can enrich communication, it can also havedisadvantages, particularly when people overvalue technology incommunication at the expense of human social aspects.
Al-Khaddam,H. (2013). Impact of social networks on interpersonal communicationof the students University College Irbid Girls: Facebook as a Model.CanadianAcademy Of Oriental and Occidental Culture, 9(5):17-22
Brown,C. (2013). Are We Becoming More Socially Awkward? An analysis of therelationship between technological communication use and socialskills in college students. PsychologyHonors Papers,1 – 68.
Chasombat,P. (2014). Social networking sites impacts on interpersonalcommunication skills and relationships. Doctoraldissertation.National Institute of Development Administration
Drago,E. (2015). The effect of technology on face-to-face communication.The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications ,6(1),1-10
Drussell,J. (2012).Social Networking and Interpersonal Communication and ConflictResolution Skills among College Freshmen.Master Of Social Work Clinical Research Papers, 1- 44.
McGrath,S. (2012). The impact of new media technologies on socialinteractions within the household. Electronic Culture and SocialChange
Mieczakowski,A., Goldhaber, T., & Clarkson, J. (2011). Culture,communication and change: summary of an investigation of the use andimpact of modern media and technology in our lives.Cambridge: Engineering Design Center.
Sommer,D. (2013). Media effects, interpersonal communication and beyond: Anexperimental approach to study conversations about the media andtheir role in news reception. Journalfor Communication Studies, 6(1),269–293
Vevere,V. (2015). Impact of social media on interpersonal communicationpatterns. SocialStudies Research journal, 7(1):124-138
Villegas,A. (2013).The Influence of Technology on Family Dynamics.Proceedings of the New York State Communication Association: Vol.2012, Article 10. Retrieved on December 21, 2016 fromhttp://docs.rwu.edu/nyscaproceedings/vol2012/iss1/10