Cellphones, especially smartphones, have revolutionized society. They actively impact business operations, relationships, childcare, and social interactions. The question remains: are these effects predominantly positive or negative, or perhaps a blend of both?
A Little History
Mobile phones had their beginnings in the mid-20th century, but it was only in 1973 that Martin Cooper of Motorola made the first real mobile phone call. The device, weighing almost two pounds, was far from the sleek and lightweight smartphones we have today. Nevertheless, this momentous breakthrough laid the groundwork for the future of mobile communication.
During the 1980s, “brick” phones, which were large and burdensome, emerged. Nokia’s introduction of the first handheld mobile phone in 1987 marked a significant transition toward portable devices. As technology has progressed, mobile phones have become progressively smaller, lighter, and more affordable.
The smartphone revolution arrived at the turn of the 21st century with the advent of smartphones. These devices merged telephony with computational power and offered advanced functionalities such as email, internet browsing, and multimedia capabilities. The release of the iPhone in 2007, followed by Android smartphones, transformed the industry and ushered in a new era of mobile computing.
Do Social Networks Improve Offline Communication?
If you are a social person, someone who actively engages in social activities, your use of social media becomes an integral part of your social profile. This, in my opinion, is something positive. If you discover that your use of social media leads to more face-to-face interactions, I fully support it.
Another individual who could benefit from social media is someone who uses it as a stepping stone towards initiating personal meetings. If you are that kind of person, I am completely encouraged.
My concern lies with individuals who treat social media as a substitute, who post something on Facebook and then wait for a hundred likes on their photo. Their self-worth and focus are determined by how much acceptance, longing, and desirability they receive from social media.
Another situation that worries me is when you and I are having a dinner party with six other people, and everyone is busy texting. We apply the “three-person rule” where three individuals need to have their attention diverted before anyone feels comfortable texting. In this scenario, with everyone both paying attention and not paying attention, we end up having superficial conversations, lacking a true connection.
Smartphones Cause Overcommunication
This is often true. We fill the communication gap with some correspondence or calls throughout the day. Of course, this is a fragmented experience that is not so meaningful, exciting, or valuable for the human person. By the evening, when you finish your work day, you no longer have the desire to go chat with friends or go on a visit, since you have already taken this “pill”.
If you notice this in yourself, there is one life hack. Try installing an app that records phone calls during business hours. This way you will increase your productivity and be able to figure out which conversations were more valuable and unfinished. When you record phone call and listen to it, you can arrange a meeting with the person and discuss everything in person. Call Recorder for iPhone allows you to explore issues in more detail and develop deep communication skills.
Harm From Smartphones to Communication
During their most recent social interaction, 89 percent of Americans confessed to using their phones, which in turn undermined the quality of the conversation they were engaged in, according to a study. The presence of a cell phone in a social setting reduces the depth of discussion, as individuals tend to avoid topics that they wouldn’t mind being interrupted. Furthermore, it diminishes the empathetic connection between people.
Surprisingly, even the seemingly innocent act of placing a cell phone on the table during lunch can lower the emotional significance of the subjects people are willing to discuss while weakening the bond between them. If you consider the cumulative impact of having a cell phone on the table during coffee meetings, breakfasts with your child, or conversations with your partner about your feelings, we subject ourselves to this distraction repeatedly throughout the day – 10, 20, 30 times or more.
The Role of Smartphones in Work Communication
Creating dedicated spaces for conversation is crucial in the workplace, as it enhances the bottom line. Studies consistently demonstrate that when individuals are encouraged to communicate with one another, their collaboration, creativity, and productivity improve. Hence, it is vital for companies to prioritize conversation within their work environment. However, achieving this requires managers to set an example by showing employees that being disconnected from email is acceptable in order to engage in conversation.
I encountered one workplace that beautifully facilitated conversations, with cappuccino machines every few steps and appropriately sized tables designed for interaction. Nevertheless, despite such an environment, many individuals are still considered immediate email responses as the most important display of commitment to the company. It becomes impossible to have meaningful conversations if one needs to be constantly attending to emails. In fact, during my interviews, some individuals expressed a sense of anxiety when separated from their phones. This attitude extends to having breakfast with one’s children while simultaneously being occupied with their cell phones.
The impact of smartphones and communication is still an open question. Yes, smartphones have created negative influences on communication, but they also have a number of positive properties. Affordability, flexibility, and multi-threading are valuable options that will help you strengthen your communication skills. The only question is how you use your smartphones: simply as a tool for more meaningful and in-depth conversations or as a substitute for face-to-face communication. We are for lively, meaningful communication.