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June 9, 2022


The invention of smartphones has enriched how we communicate, enabling us to stay connected and pass information in diverse forms – texts, audio, pictures and videos.

Beyond that, smartphones house applications that are used to perform various tasks, including leisure activities like playing games and interacting with people on social media. How these multifarious affordances impact social interaction is a subject of debate among researchers.

However, most research results indicate that smartphone use has negative impacts on social interaction. In a survey, 82% of Americans said taking out smartphones during social interaction deteriorated their conversations. Accordingly, this article focuses on the adverse effects of smartphones on social relations.

How Is Smartphone Affecting Social Relations?

1. Impact on Children
Smartphone has a considerable influence on the lifestyle and development of children. Ideally, children like to play, run, mimic adults’ speech and interact with their peers. In the process, they gain physical fitness and develop linguistic and social skills. That natural propensity is being eroded because many of them are now exposed to smartphones and are addicted to playing games. Consequently, they show little or no interest in playing with their peers or paying attention to conversations between adults.

2. Reduced face-to-face interaction
Smartphone is also a principal source of distraction for adults. A recent study on the impact of smartphones on human interaction revealed that these devices stopped most of the respondents (64%) from interacting with those around them. In other words, smartphones can turn physical proximity into “social distance”, creating a near but far paradox.

The outcomes of a similar study showed that time spent with people who were with smartphones was less satisfactory. Equally, one-on-one meetings have rapidly reduced among people that were once very close due to reliance on social media interactions.

3. Emotional hollowness
According to MIT sociologist and author of Reclaiming Conversation, Sherry Turkle, reliance on smartphones does not promote human empathy and intimacy and is devoid of spontaneous communication, eye contact, body movements and presence that play key roles in emotional connectedness

4. The age factor
Most humans feel the negative impact of smartphones but the younger generation feels the greater impact. Recent research indicates that most of those affected are within the age range of 18 to 30.

5. Victimization
Smartphone use has made it easy for people to carry out anti-social acts without being caught, including cyberbullying, racism, blackmailing, misinformation, body-shaming and trolling.

6. Illusion
In the “Smartphone Age”, closeness or affection is often misjudged by the frequency and length of chats, amount of “likes”, social media interactions and celebrations. Similarly, relying on smartphones – especially chatting – makes it easy for people to misunderstand each other because of the likelihood to read texts with different connotations.

The invention of smartphones has unarguably revolutionized how we communicate. But, like most inventions, the smartphone comes with its dark side, particularly in relation to the quality of social interaction. How you use the smartphone determines how much of the blows your relationship takes.

Source: MSBM Research 
Image Credit: Pexels