How Does Technology Affect Face to Face Communication?

How does technology affect our face to face communication? As a speech language pathologist, communication is a great interest of mine. With the dramatic increase in technology in the past five to ten years, how is this affecting our conversations and ability to communicate face to face?

The technology I am referring to in this article is about our screen time usage as adults. This includes emailing, texting, social media and online usage.

Recently, I was in a conversation with a friend who was at a birthday party for his son and had forgotten his cell phone at home. During the time that he waited for his son to be finished with the party, he tried to engage in conversation with other parents. However, the other parents were on their cell phones and were difficult to engage in conversation. Do you interrupt them or wait for them to stop looking at their phones? I was intrigued by this which led to a discussion on how as adults, we need to  make an effort to consciously engage in conversation and be present. With the constant distraction of our screens, it has become more and more challenging to be mindful. If face to face conversation is deteriorating for us as adults, what will this do to our children with regard to their face to face communication?

I decided to research this topic a little more and found an interesting article titled, The Effect of Technology on Face to Face Communication (Spring 2015) by Emily Drago. This article analyzed previous studies, conducted field observations and used an online survey to determine “the level of engagement individuals have with their cell phones, other technologies and with each other in face to face situations” (Drago, 2015). Many studies have found that as adults we spend about 8-10 hours per day on screen time. With this amount of hours per day on the screen, how does this affect us negatively?

In this study by Emily Drago (Spring 2015), these three questions were asked on the survey with the results listed below:

“How does technology affect people’s ability to communicate face to face?”

When asked to rank the statement on a scale, “It bothers me when my friends or family use technology while spending time with me”, 74% said they agreed or strongly agreed.” (Drago, 2015)

“Does the mere presence of technology affect people’s ability to communicate with individuals in a public place?”

When the students were asked whether “they believed the presence of technology, while spending time with others affects face to face interpersonal communication negatively, an overwhelming 92% of respondents believed negatively affects face to face communication.” (Drago, 2015)

“Has the increase of technology decreased both the quantity and quality of face to face interaction?”

When asked about the quality of their conversation with the presence of technology, “89% of the students felt that there was a degradation in conversation.” (Drago, 2015)

With this information collected by Emily Drago (Spring 2015), I made this pie chart below to show the significance of this data. Being a visual learner myself, I always find visuals in data to be helpful.

To access the full article, click here.

So, what do we do with this data? I think the data shows us that having technology present does negatively affect our conversation with others. This includes with our children too! I think being aware and mindful of this interruption and how it negatively impacts our conversation, we can make better decisions about using our technology. I welcome any comments!

Check out my other article about screen time here:

Screen Time and How It Affects Social Skills

Need help unplugging? Read Unplugged: Ella Gets Her Family Backo your children. Read Unplugged: How to Live Mindfully in a Digital World

Resource:

Drago, Emily. “The Effect of Technology on Face to Face Communication.” The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, Vol 6, No. 1, 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

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