This is the first of a three-part series focused on the effects of technology on human communication and social interactions, specifically on younger generations of people and students. This article will detail the current trends between technology and communication and describe the ways in which technology impacts every one of us, every single day. The second article in this series will focus primarily on the technological impact of current relationships and the emerging realm of online dating. The last article in this series will analyze technology’s impact on the job market and social media’s role in the hiring process. If you have any questions or comments on this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no doubt that a technological revolution has swept at least one generation, if not more, into a world of the unknown. Every day, technology advances. And every day, more and more users join social media platforms, use Google to search for answers and communicate with their peers and acquaintances through the written communications rather than the spoken word.
However, although the communicative aspects behind this technological revolution are widely accepted among the younger, “millennial” generations, the days of face to face conversation and small talk among strangers are rapidly diminishing.
In a current world absorbed by the fear of missing out, you would be hard-pressed to find people who do not have a smartphone in their hands, pockets, or in front of their faces while walking to and from classes or to the BSC. This constant connection is the network to a rapidly changing social issue: the indefinite extinction of human interaction.
According to the website Statista, the views on the impact of technology on life as well as society have quite the mix of opinions. In 2013, Harris Interactive ran a poll in the United States to collect views on the impact of technology on American life and society.
Within the poll, each category had mostly agreements and a minority of disagreements with the statements. The statements, however, contradicted themselves. For example, 68 percent of those polled agreed that “technology is corrupting interpersonal communications,” while 69 percent agreed that “technology has become too distracting” and 76 percent agreed that “technology is creating a lazy society.”
However, from the same poll, 65 percent agreed that “technology encourages people to be more creative” and 71 percent stated that “technology has improved the overall quality of my life.”
Associate professor of education Dr. Shannon Haley-Mize, an expert in technology and digital communication, is in agreement with Harris Interactive’s poll. She views the uprising of technological communication as both a positive and negative to her own personal ways of communicating with others.
“Use of technology has definitely changed the way that I interact with others,” she said. “I rely heavily on text messaging and email to accomplish my work and personal goals. I rarely use the phone to make an actual phone call and share media much more frequently because it is so easy to send a link, photo or video.”
More specifically, Haley-Mize’s research is centered on the 21st century classroom, with students and educators more proactively engaged in a digital form of communication.
“As a learning community, we can answer questions that are relevant to the content or the conversation as they arise,” she said. “We can also collaborate on co-created content and interact with professionals all over the world. Use of technology in the classroom offers new ways to present content to support learners and students have become nimble in terms of accessing content in a variety of forms on multiple platforms.”
Professor of communications Dr. Kirsten Johnson also agrees with the idea that today’s society is significantly impacted by the continuous rise of available technology.
“In my classrooms, I see lots of communicating, but in a different way,” Johnson said.
Johnson also commented that she feels that the availability and usability of mobile devices has made it easy to hide from unfamiliar circumstances and uncomfortable situations.
“In the end, I’m just as guilty of doing what my students do,” she said.
Junior English and Japanese double major Sherika Marshall has grown up with the social media scene, and constantly finds herself connected to the world around her through social media networks like Facebook and Instagram.
“Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have made it easier for me to connect with people,” Marshall stated. “If I’m not interested in communicating with those I am around, I tend to find myself using social media a lot more.”
However, although our current world is one full of students and professionals constantly using their mobile devices and trending technologies, the future of online versus face to face conversation is not certain.
“I don’t think that face to face conversation is going to disappear,” Johnson said. “There’s always a time and place for face to face interactions.”
“It is difficult to predict how technology will continue to reshape our lives, but there is some concern that younger generations are less likely to connect with others face to face,” Haley-Mize said. “I think it is important that we be cognizant of these concerns and encourage a balance between the digital tools and other rich sources of personal connection.”