Whether it’s chatting with an old friend over coffee or going to a party, cell phones seem to have a core place in social interactions. I have had countless conversations interrupted by a text or notification.
The issue isn’t with technology; technology itself is a fascinating topic of discussion all by itself. The issue is the way young people are addicted to technology.
The two biggest concerns are social media and mobile devices. Both have changed the dynamics of socializing dramatically. College students should set the example for others by prioritizing and appreciating in-person conversations more.
Understandably, people have phones to communicate with friends and loved ones when appropriate situations arise. I still can’t imagine how it was like for people my age before cell phones existed.
For example, emergencies are a great reason to have a phone. It’s why I’m so grateful for the amount of progress that has been made in the area of mobile technology.
However, in a too-frequent situation of a friend dividing attention between a human being and a Twitter feed, a phone seems to be an impediment of in-person communication and relationship building.
The younger generations specifically seem to be more susceptible to this issue. As a college student myself, I’ve found it easy to find comfort during awkward social interactions to quickly check my Instagram or Facebook just to give myself a reason to break eye contact.
So what does that say about my generation and those being born into a world engulfed in technology-based communication?
Psychology research shows that young adults rely much more heavily on texting than other demographics. They expect faster replies and find cell phone use appropriate in most contexts. But as college-aged people accept phone use more frequently, the overall quality of relationships and meaningful conversations decreases.
A survey was conducted in the United States by Lookout, a mobile security company, which found that over half of people couldn’t go without their phones for longer than an hour. This was particularly dominant in young people where 63 percent of women and 73 percent of men confirmed that they couldn’t go longer than an hour without checking their phones.
This survey’s data was taken back in 2012. Considering the pace at which technology seems to grow daily, I would say those numbers could have only increased since then.
I firmly believe when you’re sitting across from someone at the dinner table, a phone should be nowhere in sight. If a person can’t be without a phone for at least an hour, the phone no longer serves to make us closer to the people we care about.
That’s why as the relationship builders and social creatures that we are, we should learn when it is appropriate to use a phone and use it as a tool the way it was created to be. That way, in the end, we don’t become its slave.