How many times a day do you think your cell phone is ringing when it isn’t? How many times a day do you look at your phone to see if you have a text or use your phone to access the Internet? Do you ever ask yourself the question “What would I do without my cell phone?” Think of the days when there were no cell phones, no Internet, and no modern means of technology. Communication technology has made society better and stronger in every way, because of mobile phones; computers, the Internet, and television we have enhanced our future and have become even more effective. We now have the world at our fingertips. According to “A new poll by National Public Radio, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government shows that people overwhelmingly think that computers and the Internet have made American’s lives better.” (National Public Radio, 1999).
Communication technology is much more than a trend — it’s a need. Mobile technology and the Internet completely have altered the way in which we as a society communicate with each other. The impact of technology is profound. People have become extremely dependent on technology, affecting the way society communicates, in various positive ways. The transformation in the way society communicates with each other has changed tremendously throughout the decades. In the past, we have only had a small number of ways to communicate and these were primarily face- to- face or by telephone. However, now we can communicate through email, text messaging, computers, social networking sites and even television. First, Ray Tomlinson invented e-mail in 1972. Email is a fast and convenient way to send messages and keep in touch with others from all corners of the world through the Internet. Also email has replaced traditional mail in the process. There is no longer a need for writing letters, sending birthday cards, or mailing invitations. Therefore, it becomes a faster way to communicate. Second, text messaging, or “texting,” is a short message exchanged between two or more users on mobile phones. Most mobile users find text messaging a way to communicate, when answering the telephone is impossible or undesirable.
According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, “75% of cell phone owners say that they text.” Society also is communicating through the use of social networking sites. Social networking usage is most popular with ages 18-49. “Women seem to have been significantly more likely to use social networking sites then men. In May 2011, 69% of women were users of social networking sites, compared with 60 % of men.” (PewResearchCenter Publications, 2011). Technology has definitely changed the way we communicate, but how is it affecting interpersonal communication? Technology has affected interpersonal communications in a variety of ways, both positive and negative. For example, the Internet has made it possible for people to communicate from all corners of the world quickly and easily. Family and friends are able to stay in touch by emails, sharing pictures, and even communicate face- to-face through web cam, but on the other hand people seem to be losing personal connection and is it affecting socialization.
We as a society may be weakening the bonds of communication. Communication between parents and their children is affected because of the lack of quality time spent as a family. For instance, in previous generations families sat down socializing and talking. However, children today are separated in their bedrooms on computers, phones and watching televisions. ‘Today television and computers are replacing family time.” According to an Observational study by Brody, “Studies have shown that when the TV is on, children and parents are oriented towards each other less of the time, they talk less and have fewer positive facial expressions than when the TV is turned off.” (Brody, Gene H., Stoneman, Zolinda, Sanders 1980, p. 216-220). The internet has also affected how couples interact with one another. Couples are now more commonly meeting online through dating web sites.
According to a new survey by psychologists at the University of Rochester in the US, “online dating is the second most common way of starting a relationship – after meeting through friends.” (Jeffries, 2012). Online dating became popular in the mid 1990’s. More people enjoy online dating because of the wider selection of men and women offered, and the privacy and convenience. Although, it seems to be unclear which online dating site launched first, Editor Andrew Summersgill who wrote “ The History of Online Dating” said the best guess would be Match.com. Match.com launched in 1995 and today several millions of singles are registered. “Of the romantic partnerships formed in the United States between 2007 and 2009, 21 percent of heterosexual couples and 61 percent of same-sex couples met online, according to a study by Michael J. Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford.” (Summersgill, 2008). At the same time, while online dating is becoming more common, there are still concerns about the dangers of posting personal information on dating sites.
People need to be aware that others online can mislead you and possibly exploit you, and understand how online dating can affect their everyday life. Additionally, even though online dating has broadened the social circle of some, and it can be a “new and unseen experience”, it is replacing face- to- face meet ups. For instance, it takes away the personal connection between two people. The intimate feeling you only experience physically with another person. Also it can cause unrealistic expectations about one another before they are able to meet. Unrealistic expectations such as, appearance or how much money a person makes. The workplace is another place where technology has advanced. A survey that was done by the NPR/Kaiser/Kennedy School Poll says, “more than two-thirds (68%) of working Americans use a computer at work, and 84% of them say it is essential for their jobs. About one-third of working Americans (34%) have access to the Internet at work, and of those who do, 63% say it is essential for their jobs.” (National Public Radio, 1999).
Advances in technology have enabled people to work successfully and resourcefully without always being at their desks. Employees are now able to communicate effectively at home, at a distance office, across the world, and even in the car or on an airplane. According to a report by Patricia Reaney, “about one in five workers around the globe, particularly employees in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, telecommute frequently and nearly 10 percent work from home every day, according to a new Ipsos/Reuters poll.” Technology in the workplace allows businesses to expand quickly and efficiently. Businesses now have video and phone conferencing, email, and social networking sites helping with business expansion, allowing significant improvements in business performance due to this technology. However, as physical offices lose their importance and more employees are telecommunicating from another location of choice, these workers are becoming more isolated and losing their face- to- face socialization and affecting relationships in the workplace.
For example, simple messages that used to be sent face- to- face are now being sent through an email. Additionally, video and phone conferencing can allow you to connect with anyone in the business world, but cannot replace the warmth and feel of talking to someone or receiving a handshake. For instance, there are still businessmen today that still want to view their business partners face to face. Therefore with the workplace as we know it growing so rapidly, what will happen to the traditional offices? In summary, technology and the Internet completely have altered the way in which society communicates with each other. Communication technology has affected the way society communicates in many ways, both positive as well as negative. Communication technology has definitely made a remarkable impact on society, and it certainly has connected people more globally because of it, but in other ways they are being further cut off from family and friends because of the new technology. Technology has made people’s lives easier, but maybe so much easier that people are losing something very important. The simplicity of communication may have been improved in people’s lives, but their lives may have become much more impersonal because of it.
Bloen, J. (2006, November 21). TV’s effect on family. Retrieved from http://tvseffect.blogspot.com/ Brenner, J. (2012, May12). Pew Internet: Social Networking. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/Commentary/2012/March/Pew-Internet-Social-Networking-full-detail.aspx Brody, Gene H., Stoneman, Zolinda, and Sanders, Alice K. “Effects of Television Viewing on Family Interaction: An Observational Study. Pages 216-220 in Family Relations 29 (1980), 216-217. Laing, A. (2011, January 19). CNNMoney: What will the future workplace look like? Retrieved from http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2011/01/19/what-will-the-future-workplace-look-like/ National Public Radio. (1999, November 15 and December 19). Survey Shows Widespread Enthusiasm for High Technology. Americans Love Their Computers and the Internet; ‘Digital Divide’ Still Exists, but There Is Good
Technology has altered man’s lifestyle and is continuing to make changes too. In fact there is no aspect in a person’s life that technology has not touched. However there is one area where technology made a significantly profound effect and that is in communication.
Naturally, while technology made a huge positive impact on communication it cannot be denied that there is also a negative side to the story. First, let’s take a look at technology’s negative effects on communication:
1. Quality suffers
The magic word these days is multitasking. The internet truly enables people at home or at work to talk with someone over the phone or through any communications systems available while doing something else at the same time. Let’s take an example from a more relaxed atmosphere, you are at home talking with someone while checking email or while surfing the net or even while talking to someone else. All this multitasking is good because you are able to accomplish a number of things in a short span of time. The negative side here is that the quality of communication suffers. When you multitask your focus is actually in fragments. This may make you miss the essence of communication – making a meaningful connection.
2. Virtual rather than personal
The different types of electronic gadgets available paired with the internet allows people to call, text, or speak with anyone anytime. The trend is “communication-on-the-go”. The availability of communication devices has also resulted to a shift in interpersonal relationships. Communication these days have become virtual rather than personal. You may be video calling with someone over your smart phone but little did you realize that you may have established a far deeper relationship with your phone rather than with the person on the other end of the line.
The effects of technology on communication are not all negative though. Here are its positive effects:
1. Fast and easy
Speed is one of the best aspects of technology. We hear of what is happening around as it happens. This speed and easy access is very helpful in emergency situations. Businesses and customers also benefit from this speed.
2. Easy access
With all the electronic gadgets available these days a person will be distraught looking for a pretext not to communicate. Not having a phone or an internet connection is in fact a lame excuse. Accessibility is especially helpful for work related activities. With easy access technology enables us to accomplish lots of things at work while we are at home in our pajamas.
3. More productive
Speed and accessibility can only lead to productivity. When you get things done in a snap it means you get a lot of things done too. This is another positive impact of technology on communication. Did you know that being productive has an effect on a person’s psyche? Being productive is important because a person will feel a sense of worth. Being proud of himself for accomplishing something is a boost to a person’s confidence. This just shows how technology impacts a person’s mental and emotional state too.
Feel free to share your thoughts on this topic in the comments below.
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