There has occurred a rapid technological advancement within the past one hundred years that has revolutionized our lives. Most importantly, technology has become part and parcel of people’s lives and most individuals have overhauled their lives to accommodate this change. Most importantly, technology has made our lives easy since many gadgets that were initially expensive and unaffordable to many people within the last century have become cheap. One of the most significant gadgets in the lives of young people at the moment is the smartphone. As time advances, the prices of these gadgets continue going down and this means that more people can now afford them compared to some years back. With time, smartphones have become the center of most activities of young people and it can generally be observed that many young people have problems when they stay for some time without their. These devices have had both positive and negative influences on the lives of these young people. Most important is the way they have revolutionized the way we communicate between those close to us and those far away from us (Yzer & Southwell 8). This paper will use texts from existing academic literature to discuss why the mainstream adoption of smartphones by the millennials, especially in the University of Minnesota is an issue that needs discussion and thorough empirical investigation. The paper will discuss what the researchers were able to find out from the existing literature on the issue of technology and communication.
Why the Effect of Smartphones and Social Interactions Is an Important Issue That Requires Empirical Research
In the 20th century, communication between people who were out of each other’s sight was expensive. Both the gadgets used in this communication and the services attracted high costs. In addition, the gadgets like fax, computers and telephones had to be connected to the telephone lines in order to be able to send and receive information. These machines were not portable in addition to the fact that the overall cost was expensive, individuals had to limit their communication to only those issues that were very necessary (Turkle 13). However, there has been a rapid change in the technology used to manufacture them. Companies have invested a lot of resources in research that have seen the intervention of new methods of creating communication devices that are cheap and affordable to most people. Competition between these companies has eliminated the monopolies that existed in the past and this, in addition to globalization of markets, has led to the standardization of the prices of communication devices globally. This means that most individuals can currently afford smartphones.
Young people have become addicted to using these gadgets. The number of people subscribing to social media sites is already very high and constantly increasing. In addition, the social media sites themselves have been increasing in number and the amount and variety of content that can be shared on these sites as increased with research. It is clear that the companies owning these sites are out to maximize on the growing interest of people to be connected to individuals located far away from them. Smartphones are gadgets that combine the capabilities of a computer to those of a cellphone. These devices are handheld and portable thus making them convenient to carry around and use. The devices have a more interactive interface with the user since the screen is used both for input and output. These phones have various capabilities that include sound recording, taking pictures, videotaping and easy transmission of this content on the internet.
The ability of the smartphone to easily capture and transmit information over the internet will form the center of our research since most young people are usually distracted and cut from their immediate environment by this content (Yzer & Southwell 10). Over the years, individuals have had problems sending audio and visual content and in most cases this content had to be sent either as hardcopy or stored in devices like compact disks and sent as a parcel. However, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, SnapChat and WhatsApp allows individuals to easily send large volumes of content to other individuals who can access it from any part of the globe provided that they have internet connection.
The ability of smartphones to connect people located in different parts of the universe has been viewed as an advantage to the society. Numerous changes have occurred in the current society where individuals take up jobs or go for education and other endeavors to other parts of their country or the universe. These individuals require means that can enable them keep in touch with friend and families (Yzer & Southwell 15). The internet forms an important interface that can help connect these individuals and help them know about how the other parties are faring. This goes a long way in helping these people feel at peace and feel the warmth of the love from those close to them. In addition, smartphones also promote educational and career development. Many people can easily access content from their institutions and workplaces through the smartphones. Many smartphones can enable one read documents and edit them while going about other activities like travelling or even shipping.
Other individuals have argued about the effect of smartphones from the negative side. Most people will acknowledge that smartphones connect people to individuals far away from them (Turkle 13). However, for some people, these gadgets may cut them either partially or totally from individuals close to them. If one takes a keen observation at individuals in public places such as in buses, trains, restaurants and even classrooms, one will generally notice that these individuals are more preoccupied with their gadgets than they are with individuals close to them. Therefore, though smartphones connect us to the outside world, it alienates us from our immediate environments and most individuals who are close to us cannot be able to effectively get in touch. Most people use their smartphones for reading newspapers and books or communicating to people who are far away and ignore that interactions with people close to them could be better than those of people far away.
Some writers have disputed these advances and argued that individuals who seem preoccupied with their smartphones in public places most of the time are justified because they keep in touch with other people who are close to them. In addition, there is no guarantee that their communication with these people in their current location would be more beneficial that that with the person that they are communicating to. For instance, it is no guarantee that the conversation that an individual will hold with the random person that you meet in the bus or on the pavements at college will be more beneficial than that that they are having with the members of their family or close friends on their smartphone (Yzer & Southwell 12).
However, questions have risen over the kind of information that young people share and access through the smartphones. Some of this information is very irrelevant to the lives of these young people. For instance, the current American society has elevated individuals in the entertainment industry and many young people idolize these individuals. For a significant number of these people, their smartphones are used to follow the lives of the celebrities. The celebrities on the other hand have come out to fully utilize social media as a platform for communicating with their audience. However, the kind of information and images shared on these platform is irrelevant to the lives of the former and is merely meant to draw the attention of the young people. For instance, celebrities will expose their lives in an unethical manner such as showing photographs and videos of each activity that they take place in different places including bedrooms, bathrooms, dining rooms, in the cars that they drive and some other personal activities. Young people are drawn to such posts and will, spend time following them, giving their feedback and gathering time and resources to emulate them. Such exposure of oneself is unnecessary and should not replace the traditional interactions that used to take place between members of the society (Yzer & Southwell 12).
Many young people are distracted from important occasions and discussions by their smartphones. For instance, there are individuals who fail to concentrate in class because they are preoccupied with their phones. In addition, families have problems controlling their young people who may be present most of the time but will be spotted playing mobile games on their smartphones or listening to music. Therefore, there are instances where young people substitute very important activities with these smartphones (Turkle, 3).
I will investigate this issues as an archivist. Therefore, it is important that I compare the changes that have taken place in the society in the past several centuries in the area of communication between people who are living together. Some writers, for example from Thesisgeek review, have examined this change and have come to notice that the changes brought by smartphones are not very significant because of the following reason: In the past, before the advancement of technology and adoption of the internet and eventually the smartphones, people had to find something that they could do even at home. For instance, most people would turn to books and newspapers and had little time to hold a conversation with those close to them in public parts, buses, trains and even in their houses. In the previous century, some women were preoccupied with household chores and even knitting when they were these chores and this left very little time for conversation with people around.
From this discussion, people who take both sides of the arguments have valid points and it is not definite whether the use of smartphones has more benefits or disadvantages to the millennial generation especially on the concept of social interaction. This necessitates that an empirical research be carried out to determine the effect of these gadgets on the social interactions in a particular community which in this case is the University of Minnesota.