We’ve all heard our parents say it; “Look up from your phone every once in a while”, “Hey, talk to me don’t text”, “why are you being so anti-social on your phone?”
Not only our cellphones, but also our laptops, televisions, creations like Facebook and other social media platforms. Are all of these inventions and enhancements in technology making us less social?
Some would say yes. People who lived before the day and age of technology would say people communicated more without these inventions. They ARE partially right. The only difference is their communication was face-to-face, ours is over the internet or some other form of technology. When teens are looking at their phones instead of talking to their parents, usually they are talking to friends, or on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. All these are alternate forms of being social, just not face-to-face.
Keith N. Hampton, a Professor at Rutgers University of Communication and Information says technology is enriching our social relationships. Professor Hampton teaches “Yes, some things have changed—but maybe not as much as you might think. Consider ‘what a strange practice it is…that a man should sit down to his breakfast table and, instead of conversing with his wife, and children, hold before his face a sort of screen on which is inscribed a world-wide gossip.’ These words ring as true today as when they were written, in 1909. They were the observations of one of America’s first and most renowned sociologists, Charles Cooley, about how morning delivery of the newspaper was undermining the American family. Thank goodness the scourge of the newsman is in decline.”(Hampton). He has studied his students and colleagues and found the students have many more close relationships because of their cellphones and media usage than the older colleagues (Hampton).
In contrast, Professor Larry Rosen, a Psychologist from the University of California State, Dominguez Hills says the opposite. He holds that the multiple relationships we make online are not very fruitful, they aren’t really close friends. He believes that technology has forced us to pay less attention to our real world communication and more to online communication. Professor Rosen says, “As a research psychologist, I have studied the impact of technology for 30 years among 50,000 children, teens and adults in the U.S. and 24 other countries. In that time, three major game-changers have entered our world: portable computers, social communication and smartphones. The total effect has been to allow us to connect more with the people in our virtual world—but communicate less with those who are in our real world.” (Rosen). Rosen believes we need to put the phones down and technology away and stay focused on our real life communication, even if that means less communication altogether.
What do you think? Is technology making us less social?