The world may seem unchanging as each day passes in our eyes however it is impossible to see change if you are part of it. Unseen to our eyes, we are in the midst of a technological revolution that emphasizes placing all the work onto machinery and technology of which the effects are seen by those of an older generation. The effects of the newfound communications tech can be traced from the oldest living generations all the way to newest, Generation Z.
Our children, who are seen as the future are becoming more and more cut off socially as they are exposed to technology, according to an article published by LeaderLive. Nonverbal methods of communication such as texting, snapchatting, tweeting and other methods could cause issues with in-person social interactions. Speech and language development depend on verbal interactions like singing, reading, talking, or playing so when those are replaced with technology with non-communicative purposes, it prevents proper development. Areas of concern include: language development, attention span, school performance and hearing issues.
Language development consists of children hearing those around them speak however as technology makes it way into their lives, it reduces critical parental time. When parents know their child is distracted, they speak less and therefore the infant is beginning to vocalize less. Joint attention (focusing on the same thing together at the same time with someone) is the antecedent for conversation and socialization. With that in mind, when a parent spends their time on their smart, they are subconsciously ruining their babies attention span.
Moreover, school performance suffers when students spend more time multitasking with technology than those who spent less time multitasking according to a research performed on a group of Boston eighth graders by the University of Massachusetts. Hearing issues are a concern that was bound to happen as more than 30 percent of teenagers wear headphones according to statistics done by Scientific Reports. These are concerns for those just recently born into Generation Z, the next focus of concern will focus on those who are barely entering adulthood and their social lives.
Phones, tablets, laptops and other technologies make up a huge part of our social life because they hold so much of it there. So, for that reason it holds a significant impact and by those who did not grow up with such privileges, it holds a negative effect. Those who grew up with them see it as positive but the negative effects are not noticed by them. To start off on a positive note, technology provides easily accessible connections. It can connect us to people we never thought we’d see again, keep us up with current news or bring groups together. For example, an Egyptian Revolution began on Facebook when a young man saw a fellow Egyptian beaten by the police. That attack was the catalyst for a revolution that was bound to occur. Just the ease of being to speak to someone with a touch of a button has become apart of our social life. However, we’ve become too accustomed to it as a result, face to face interactions have suffered and are now awkward. Technology and its many capabilities are a comfort zone and when we are given the opportunity to make direct contact with someone we may even be unwilling to do so. Preferably, we’d like to send a text to our roommate who’s there as well, if they’d like to go out rather than ask them personally. Another surprising aspect of this technology is that while it does give you a large amount of friends, it helps you determine which ones you actually interact with and the rest are just people we add just for the sake of popularity.
The next area of observation is the social behaviors of Generation Z and the Millenials in comparison to Generation X. There are two differences from Generation Z (1997 to now) to Millenials (1977-1996) is that they’ve never lived in a world without internet, and that they only remember 9/11 as a historical event. According to an article published by The Farmington Flyer, Ashley Montgomery, the assistant dean at the University of Maine Farmington, has noticed an apparent generation gap between her (Generation X) and her Generation Z students, which is brought to attention in the classroom. She said that her students have grown up with devices, that she did not grow up with. Those same devices are a significant part of how they interact with the world since an early age. She also noted that one of the biggest challenges they face is making face-to-face interactions with adults. She reasons that they haven’t practiced thinking out loud, and feels as though she has to translate a lot for them to be able to understand.
The Generation Z population may lack certain processing skills as a result from the impact technology has had on their childhood. It is also possible that those same people are not aware or rather, do not see in themselves the dangerous impact of technology in their behavior as well as in conversation but do see it in their parents. The dynamic is that they think, “I need to talk to my mom but she’s on the phone”. Perhaps, the reason they think that is because they know in themselves, that if they’re looking at their phone then they’re giving distracted attention. The next struggle, as noticed by the assistant dean, was that these students also have a hard time adjusting to adulthood. The shift away is unfamiliar territory for these students because they’re used to having a structured environment where someone outside of themselves, sets up times, for example, activities or class time. It isn’t just Generation Z that is having these effects but the Millennials as well. Adults are having a harder time engaging with other adults because of this technology age they’ve been raised in. They aren’t making the connections and experiences that they normally should. For the Millennial generation and the adults of Generation Z, it is not that their child development has been hindered rather it’s the fact that they’ve integrated themselves with the younger generation and their tech-obsessed habits.
Now that the behavior has been studied, the next area of analysis is the social interactions. The Millennials have grown up and so has some of the Generation Z population, so it only makes sense that they become the next movers and shakers of this world. In their wake, businesses and a new breed of technology are opening up that reflects their creator’s behaviors. These new innovations reduce the need for human-to-human exchanges, and favor time and more cost-efficient, non-human options. In public transportation, it is no longer required to communicate with a cashier because turnstiles and ticketing machines have taken their place. Apps like Uber, make it easy to get a ride, and not have to utter a single word the whole time. Many big companies such as HEB, have an app where it’s possible to shop and pay without having to leave the comfort of your home the exception being that you pick it up. Another, more interactive alternative, are the self-checkout systems at grocery stores that eliminate need for interaction with cashiers while still offering the in-store experience. There is not a single doubt that the lives we lead are more fast-paced, comfortable and efficient but the question it raises is whether or not we are sacrificing human connection in order to minimize human effort.
According to an article published by Social Connectedness, the transactional interactions become increasingly important as one ages and leaves the professional sphere along with its accompanying social circles. For several people, especially the elderly, these interactions are their only chance to have conversations throughout the day. There is no doubt that these new establishments are contributing to the generation gap but there are only a reflection of their creator’s behaviors. Social interactions are slowly dissipating as our future children slowly become more and more cut-off socially. Our next area of analysis is over social relationships, specifically the ones between friends. One can only begin to wonder, what the relationships of adults are like after reading about their inability to communicate with other adults of their generation and rightfully so.
As technology and relationships become intertwined, the fear that people are becoming more isolated is growing. The assumption is made that because we are isolated and engage increasingly with our technologies, our relationships are crumbling. According to Dr. Hampton, who works closely with the Pew Research Center, he says that while the digital age is still relatively new and its impact on relationships is still evolving, the current data is both surprising and consistent. As it turns out, the research does show that digital technologies are changing the nature of the community and the structure of relationships, but not in a negative way. A summary of the research done at the Pew Research Center revealed it’s true that people report having less close relationships. However, there is no obvious connection between technology and a decrease in our core network’s size. In fact, users of the Internet tend to report more close relationships as well as more diversity within those same friendships. Facebook and Internet users also say they receive higher levels of social support as compared to those who don’t use the web. There is also no indication that heavy internet users participate in fewer traditional, face-to-face social activities in fact they do so at a greater rate. However, it goes to say the social and relational implication of technology use are still evolving and the context of the surveys may have impacted the data. Still, the research shows that users of technology tend to have social relationships that are closer and more supportive.
The next area of analysis is the technological effect on romance as it first blossoms. In this tech age, technology isn’t killing courtship but as it progresses it’s redefining what romance looks like for young couples. We text instead of talk, facetime instead of having in-person discussions, and zip through dating profiles like its nothing. This new and convenient romance is changing the way we communicate to our partners. It’s very unlikely to get the romanticized version of a fateful meeting these days. According to Philip Wang, co-founder of Wong Fu Productions, says, “those really romantic scenarios are kind of diluted nowadays and a lot of the mystery we’ve typically associated with romance is not as strong as it used to be.” In essence, we’ve lost the art of offline dating and instead we’ve traded mystery for information. Rather than going into a date blind, they go, having dug deep into the other person’s Facebook. Dr. Corinne Weisgerber, an associate professor of communication at St. Edward’s University at Austin, said there are drawbacks to this, looking up someone’s information before a date means you could skip over those moments of discovery in person. In short, romance is changing and it’s not determined whether it’s for the better or not. As technology progresses so do we, however love will remain the same but the manner in which we obtain it, will change. The question that remains is how will the actual relationships change once courtship has ended?
The last analysis will focus on how technology affect couple’s relationship’s. As society adapts to these new avenues of contact, there are also ways in which technology can strip important aspects of how people connect on an personal level, which is especially true in our most intimate relationships. Intimate relationships often have their challenges and technology use can be added to that list. The ways in which people use technology can cause problems between romantic partners, stirring conflict and dissatisfaction in the relationship. A 2014 Pew Research Center poll indicated that one in four cell phone owners in a relationship or marriage found their partner to be distracted by their cellular device. Nearly, 1 in 10 argued about the other’s excessive use of their cell phone. The poll noted that several arguments began about when to use the devices and when to abstain. Oddly, younger users were more likely to report increased tension as well as enhanced closeness in their relationships as a result of technology. It could be a result of their exposure to technology at an early age so both partners in the relationship understand and aren’t as aggravated by it.
Still, the moments spent on technology quickly add up to a considerable portion of a person’s waking hours. The amount of time spent on phones takes away from time spent with a significant other which may make them feel isolated and underappreciated. In any relationship, if one feels unloved, there will be an argument and dissatisfaction will be felt. Our social manners, behaviors, interactions, lives, and whatever else will undoubtedly be affected by technology and the various forms of communication it provides us. So, with that in mind, it is up to the user to be able to use it responsibly and in a way that will be beneficial. However it can be agreed that in this moment, it is negatively affecting the adults and children of today.