Everyday more smartphones are sold around the world, nowadays there are about 1 billion smartphones being used in the entire world. Now it is much easier and faster to share information, experiences, pictures and ideas to everyone. We are getting so used to all of these technologies that soon we will not be able to live without them anymore. But sometimes people overuse their devices and this can be very dangerous once you may lose all of your human interaction skills. Do smartphones increase or decrease social interaction?
The first smartphone was developed in 1992 by the company IBM and sold by BellSouth Cellular Corp. It was nicknamed, “Simon” and had the following features: a calendar, an address book, a calculator, an email service, and a touch screen. They offered Simon for $899 with a two-year service contract and for $1099 without a contract. BellSouth Cellular sold approximately 50. 000 units. Following Simon, the company Nokia released the Nokia 900 in 1996. The Nokia 900 was a palmtop computer-style phone combined with a PDA from HP.
In the late 90s people were still used to have a palm top and a cell phone as the cell phones only had the basic features. Later, in 2004, the company HP released the iPaq h6315 which was a device that combined their previous PDA, the HP2215 with cellular capability. Now, 20 years later, the company Apple sells the new iPhone 5 with a lot more features such as internet, voice command, camera to take pictures and record videos, GPS and music player for the price of $200 with a two-year service contract and for $650 without a contract which makes it much easier for anyone to acquire a smartphone.
As the price has decreased so much the number of smartphones sold had a huge increase. Only considering the iPhone there are approximately 73 million smartphones in the world which is 1460 times more than the number that BellSouth Cellular sold. Nowadays, there are around 1 billion smartphones around the world and every day more iPhones are sold than babies are born in the world. This means that in a couple of years almost half of the world population will have a smartphone. The smartphone brings so many advantages for society.
With the new technologies a person in the United States can communicate to another one in China with just one call or even via text message. These new devices are making the world “smaller” and therefore make it a lot easier to share your ideas, thoughts and experiences whenever you want. Since a smartphone is small and light you can always carry it in your pocket and thus be connected with the entire world 24 twenty-four-seven. The most used feature of smartphones is the internet, but actually the most used applications are not the internet browsers.
In fact, the most used applications are Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. Summarizing the social applications, pictures, thoughts and experiences can be shared with friends and you can also comment and discuss them. The smartphone still has a lot of features and applications that can help not only the communication between people, but can also help them at their workplace. The most recent devices have an great feature that allows the user to open Word, Excel and Power Point documents. As a result, you can work on important projects on a short bus ride or when you are stuck in traffic.
In addition, you can also be always connected with the news about your city or even news around the world. However, the main problem of the new generation of smartphone users which are teenagers between the ages 15-25 years, is that they overuse their devices. Every day you see more people using their smartphones almost 24 hours a day and sometimes I am concerned about it because some people spend more time playing around with their smartphones instead of interacting with others. Based on my own observations I can say that I frequently see people being completely focused on their smartphones which means that they simply ignore veryone and everything around. Imagine a world in which you don’t need to leave your room anymore because you could do whatever you need just by using your smartphone. Consequently, we would completely stop social interaction. Of course this is an extreme scenario, but we are getting closer to this every single day. I fear the day when technology overlaps our humanity. It will be then that the world will have permanent ensuing generations of idiots (Einstein). In this quote Einstein actually talks about the atomic bomb but we can still use it to analyze the overuse of smartphones.
The more time smartphone users spend on using their devices, the more they become dependent on them. I have to join in the voice of critics who yearn for a simpler, less technical life. However, I do not wish to return to the pre-computer life of paper and pencil. Instead, I am worried that we risk having our brains become vestigial organs (Whitbourne, 2011). This sentence explains our current situation, as we use our phones all the time even to do simple things like communicating only by texting. As a consequence, we kind of lose our speaking abilities.
Another example is the overuse of GPS, a very useful tool when you see a new city for the first time. Nowadays, people even use to navigate in their own hometown. The principal purpose of this paper, however, is to answer the big question about human interaction. Do smartphones help us to have more social interaction or do they make us lose our ability to interact with other people? If you have a smartphone you can still communicate with a lot of people even being all by yourself. You can text, call, send pictures and videos and much more just by having a smartphone. And this is not the even main problem.
It occurs when you are already with your friends and you still keep using your phone. Since I do not have a smartphone I started to observe how my friends act while hanging out with each other. Some of them, when using their phones, completely ignore everyone and everything around them. After doing some research in trying to answer the question whether smartphones help ours social relations or not, I think I found a suitable answer: The problem is not the smartphone, it is the way people use it. In my point of view, smartphone users need to be aware of the time they spend using their phone every day.
They need to find a point of equilibrium where you can still enjoy every single feature of the smartphone, but still interact with people who are around. For example, turn off your phone when you have lunch with your friends or when you are at an event or a party. This would help you to not lose your ability to interact with people personally. When you privilege the relationships mediated by smartphones we are compromising ours real social skills (Giglio, 2012). Therefore, one of the solutions to this problem would be to turn off your smartphone more often when you are interacting with people that are around you.
To make this more acceptable you can play games with your friends to make the disconnection of the smartphones more fun. One of these games could be Phone Stacking. Everyone at the table places his or her smartphone in the center of the table and the first one to pick up a phone to check it needs to pay the next drink. This is a fun way to not use your smartphone while you hang out with your friends and definitely worth a try. Another solution is talk to your friends and ask them to not bring their smartphones or turn them off in the next time are will to meet, so you can talk more and have more fun together.
Most of them probably cannot imagine themselves without their phones for a couple of hours, but if you can convince them to do it a few times they will see that it is not that bad and that you can still have a lot of fun without your smartphones. The group that is more affected by this addiction are teenagers. Most of them think they need to be connected with their friends 24 hours per day. The best solution for this case would be time restrictions determined by their parents, so they get used to not use their smartphones during times like breakfast, lunch, dinner, study time, family celebrations or birthdays.
As far as smart phones revolutionize the way of communication and enhance the levels of interaction between remote and urban people, they alienate and limit people’s interactions. However, smartphones help to connect individuals whose relationships are complicated by geography and distance. Despite being of importance uniting distant individuals, smartphones have helped extend the gap between close individuals while increasing distance between them. It is obvious that the fact almost everyone has a smartphone has held back oral communication greatly.
In my considered opinion, despite having advanced computing capability, in the ethic aspect, it is not of much importance to get a smartphone. This is because it will help one distant him/herself from close persons. There is no doubt that a smartphone can be a very useful device but it can also influence your social life negatively. Since the growth of technology cannot be controlled, individuals need to acquire these new gadgets but they must make sure that they do not let their lives be completely controlled by them.
You should let people control the use of smartphones to be able to interact with their friends and colleagues freely. References CataLink (2012, October). Retrieved November 24, 2012, from http://www. catalink. com. br/telefonia/youpix-chat-smartphones-estao-prejudicando-nossas-relacoes-pessoais/ Celular Geek (2012, November 19). Retrieved November 24, 2012, from http://www. maniadecelular. com. br/233131/vantagens-e-desvantagens-que-smartphones-podem-oferecer. html Principe, G. (2011, October). Retrieved November 17, 2012, from http://www. psychologytoday. com/blog/your-brain-childhood/201110/hold-the-smar