The increase of access to advanced technologies such as smart phones and laptops has changed the way society participates and behaves in public spaces. It is not uncommon to see a group of friends sitting together in the same physical and public space but they are on their phones – engaged in their own private space. So, are our phones affecting our communication skills and making us antisocial?
The above image is of my friend Pat (taken and uploaded with permission). Pat and I do the same degree and in our class breaks we eat, drink coffee, catch up and complain – this photo was taken during one of those breaks at uni on the McKinnon lawn. We were asked to take a photo of someone using their phone in a public space, however I find this quite strange. In order for me to complete this task, I had to engage myself in my phone (which could’ve been considered antisocial) to take a photo of Pat using his phone, meaning we were both in the same physical space but engaged in our phones #ironic.
It is well known that humans have a fundamental need to connect with each other, and social media influences this. Our need to connect can be replicated through the use of social media changing our behavioural patterns. Researchers found that after a short period of cell phone use, people were less likely to partake in “prosocial” behaviour — actions that are intended to help another person or society — compared with a control group.
In fact, 30% of 18-29 year olds have even admitted to pretending to use their phone in order to avoid interacting with other people around them. This statistic was published in 2011, so I assume that as social technologies are still increasing and almost every person has a smart phone that this statistic has risen rapidly.