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Effects of Technology on Interpersonal Communication
Interpersonal communication refers to the exchange of information between two or more people. During this process of interpersonal communication, there is an exchange of message from the sender to the receiver (Birchmeier, 2011). There are different methods of interpersonal communication. They can either be direct or indirect communication. Other than the exchange of information between people, with interpersonal communication, there is the exchange of feelings between people. Interpersonal communication is different from other methods in that it does not only pertain on the language used by the parties involved but also deals with how the message reaches the receiver (Phillips,1990).
This implies that the interpersonal communication puts into consideration the tone of language used, facial expressions, gestures and body language used in communication. Technology, on the other hand, refers to the art of making, modifying and using the knowledge of tools and techniques with the aim of solving problems and improving existing solutions towards problems existing among people (Divito, 2009). Technology has a great influence on the interaction between individuals. With the continuing economic development and technological advancement, interpersonal communication faces some challenges. In addition, there is a great change in interpersonal communication with the lack of voice-to-voice contact, but an increase in keeping in touch. To grasp the effects of technology on the interpersonal skills, it is important to understand both the negative and positive impacts that technology has on interpersonal communication. The objective is to describe and compare the negative and positive effects of technology on interpersonal communication on Generation Y; group ages 18-24 (Birchmeier, 2011).
Many articles and books have their description on the continuous use of technology among Generation Y. Authors are describing this as a growing evil in the society. This is due to the severe impacts that technology is bringing in the interactions between people in the society. Interpersonal communication is an important aspect in the society. Birchmeier describes interpersonal communication as a strong base of relationships and as well as a lifetime opportunity of developing life skills. On the other hand, other authors describe interpersonal communication as time consuming. However, comparing it with technology-based methods of communication, it appears advantageous. It gives individuals opportunity of expressing their feelings to others.
Over the past decade, there have been changes experienced in the daily activities carried out by Generation Y individuals, compared to previous generations.
Among many youth in the 20th century, connection between them includes characteristics of face-to-face interaction or using landline telephones (Birchmeier, 2011). Social networks are another factor that has great influence on the interaction between those living in different regions (Borgman, 2003). Through social networks, there is an increase in support exchange as well improvement in individual relationships between Generation Y members. In past years before the invention of technological methods of communication, maintenance of interpersonal relationships was mainly through face-to-face, letter writing or use of landline telephone between people. High growth of the internet access, software availability, advancements in cell phone technology as well as increased population exposure to the internet, has lead to an increase in reliance of technology on the maintenance of communication and relationships between people (Wood, 2010).
Through commercialization of the internet, there is the creation of emails, instant messaging and data sharing through the invention of the World Wide Web. The use of technology such as the internet is more as compared to any other method during communication and as well socialization. A study reveals that the communication through technology is increasing at a high rate as the generation changes (West, 2011). The use of technology-based methods of communication is more among the Generation Y than any other population group. There are relevant changes in communication between business parties using the internet. It is now possible for business parties to share files and access data through a remote login. This on the other hand, comes because of incorporation of technology in interpersonal communication (Birchmeier, 2011).
Methods used in the research
While developing the research paper, books and articles already presented on impacts of technology on interpersonal communication will play a major role. More so, review of already presented data will also play a significant role in the research paper. Discussions presented and reviews on technology and interpersonal communication will provide significant data for the research paper. However, due to the prevalent impacts of technology on interpersonal communication, comparison between other generation relying on interpersonal communication and Generation Y will provide information on the fate of interpersonal communication.
Positive impacts of interpersonal communication
Interpersonal communication is an important aspect of life. Other than the exchange of information between people involved in the communication process, there are other important aspects of communication between people (West, 2011). Interpersonal communication aids people in acquiring ideas and as well, some interpersonal communication skills through the communication process (DeVito, 2009). More so, while using interpersonal communication, it becomes easier for the parties involved in the communication process to express their feelings and emotions. Therefore, the incorporation of technology in the communication process of interpersonal communication remains significant and plays a great role in the society (Wood, 2010). An April 2012 survey finds that some 70% of all cell phone owners and 86% of Smartphone owners have used their phones in the previous 30 days to perform at least one of the following activities:
Coordinate a meeting or get-together — 41% of cell phone owners have done this in the past 30 days.
Solve an unexpected problem that they or someone else had encountered — 35% have used their phones to do this in the past 30 days.
Decide whether to visit a business, such as a restaurant — 30% have used their phone to do this in the past 30 days.
Find information to help settle an argument they were having — 27% have used their phone to get information for that reason in the past 30 days.
Look up a score of a sporting event — 23% have used their phone to do that in the past 30 days.
Get up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information to find the fastest way to get somewhere — 20% have used their phone to get that kind of information in the past 30 days.
Get help in an emergency — 19% have used their phone to do that in the past 30 days (Pew Research Center, 2014).
It is hard imagining life without technology. This would include life with no television, computers, or cell phones. Life appears hard without incorporation of technology. Therefore, it is true that the technology plays a great role in our lives and individuals have a great reliance on technology in daily activities. Interaction between youth using technology boosts interpersonal relationships by being able to express feelings more freely and reduces the time it takes to communicate person to person. While using technology in the daily communication, it is important to be aware of the impact that it has on people and as well on the interactions between people (Borgman, 2003).
Through technology, there is a great improvement in the modes of interaction between people. The internet remains one of the most powerful things invented by human beings (Wood, 2010). Using the internet, there is an improvement in the method of sharing of information. People are able to access information that seems to be hard to access, such as obtaining research studies instead of going to the library. In addition, there is an improvement in research methods used by researchers as they can gather information in a matter of seconds.
In the past, research was hectic and the method used to obtain research was expensive in comparison to the new advancements in technology. This is an important aspect of technology experienced by researchers because it has granted people the ability to get more precise information and data regarding a given topic using technology related methods of research. Online tests aids researchers in gathering information over a wide area coverage without travelling. Therefore, considering research, technology has a positive impact on interpersonal communication since research through the internet is more reliable and less expensive as compared to those carried out through interpersonal communication method (DeVito, 2009).
Business communication is another mode of communication experiencing positive effects resulting from the high use of technology methods. Through emails and chat, business partners remain in touch with each other without literally seeing each other (West, 2011). More so, using technology improves the process of job applications and increases advertisement in a less expensive manner. With the use of technology while carrying out business activities, conducting of meetings through video conferences is possible (Birchmeier, 2011). This is an easier method of carrying out business deals in a more effective, easier, and less expensive way without travelling to the offices.
Job applicants are able to carry out their interviews through the internet therefore eliminating the nervousness of one-on-one interviews and creating a more comfortable environment. Furthermore, with the use of technology in the business world, there have been many improvements in the methods of striking deals and recruitment of employees in an effective, timely and inexpensive manner. This is a more reliable method of carrying out business activities as compared to the interpersonal communication method, having a description of face-to-face communication (Phillips, 1990).
Interpersonal communication is a method of communication frequently facing barrier challenges. Parties involved in the communication process often experience some challenges arising from the receiver or the sender (Wood, 2010). The most common challenge experienced by people communicating is the language barrier. More so, cultural barriers (mostly experienced by business people working in different regions) and channel barriers (mostly experienced by poor choice of method of communication used by people involved in the communication process). Lastly, there are physical barriers experienced during communication of people living in different regions. Geographical separation is one factor that describes physical barriers experienced while using interpersonal communication. However, with the use of technology methods of communication, it is possible to deal with these barriers. Communication is easier and faces no barriers as compared to interpersonal communication used without the use of technological methods. Therefore, with the use of technology, there is an improvement and establishment of a more reliable and easy way of communicating with people from different regions (Borgman, 2003).
While using technology related methods of communication, it is possible for children living far away from their homes and relatives to communicate with their parents through platforms such as Facebook, Instant Messaging and as well Skype. This prevents them from physically travelling to their relative’s premises. However, this method of interaction between people is never the same with talking personally. Maintaining the friendship using the technology is easier and less expensive. People do not have to travel in order to meet. Through the video calling, they can talk freely. This is similar to people aiming at sharing their ideas with others. Lastly, those in offices can simply share their ideas and messages to others without interfering with their duties. This improves idea-sharing mechanisms as well as improving interpersonal relationships between people. Therefore, technology methods of communication have a great improvement on maintenance of friendship relationships and as well as sharing of ideas (West, 2011).
Personal interaction is always an important function of human experience (DeVito, 2009). Prior to the invention of and evolution of personal computers and cell phones, personal relationships remained were formal and maintained using face-to-face interaction and verbal or written communication (Wood, 2010). However, with the development of the information age (technology), personal interaction and relationships have a characteristic of having the ability to access and exchange information more freely and more conveniently as compared to prior sharing of information before the invention of technology (West, 2011). Currently, there are some changes experienced while different societies are interacting with each other.
Societies relying on the use of technology do not face a limit in their methods of communication. This implies that technology is flexible enough to incorporate their uses. However, the society faces a challenge on how the individuals feel free while using technology and as well their adaption to the technology. In other words, people learn how to think and feel the way they do depending on the messages they receive through the current technology. Changes in the channel used in communication have a direct impact on the messages received by the receiver. If the channel used is impersonal, then the message itself is impersonal (Birchmeier, 2011).
With the use of technology methods, there is an improvement while sending an urgent message (DeVito, 2009). The use of cell phones and internet based communication channels, gives generation Y have the ability to communicate conveniently with each other in a fast and more convenient manner. While using cell phones, it is not only fast but also cheap. It is hard imagining how generation Y could have their interaction with people from other regions without the use of instant messages (IM) and Facebook platforms. Through these channels, they are able to maintain and carry out their communication without the need of travelling and posting letters, which might be time consuming. Technology platforms of communication give generation Y an opportunity to interact with others from other geographical regions (Birchmeier, 2011).
Through blogs, Generation Y has an opportunity of expressing their ideas, thoughts and feelings in a simple manner (Wood, 2010). A corporate blogging tool can help employees share ideas and opinions. Blog posts can also help employees doing similar work or having a similar interest in different business units to save time and effort. Employees can find someone else’s views to help them solve a problem or speed up the task. One example is in the UK where many of the BBC reporters blog what they report on TV and radio. There are also many bloggers who post on subjects of interest to employees, whether work-related or of personal interest.
With the use of social media and other technology channels, getting someone to date is becoming easier. This is an advantage to Generation Y as during their leisure time they have the opportunity of mingling with other people and making new friends. Dating and chatting websites such as Facebook and Instagram play a very crucial role in dating in Generation Y. In addition, technology is the rationale behind the success of long distance relationships in Generation Y (West, 2011). Online dating is easier as compared to face-to-face dating that requires lovers to travel over long distance with aims of the meeting with each other (Phillips, 1990).
Negative Effects of Technology on Interpersonal Communication
While investigating the negative effects resulting from reliance of Generation Y on technology, it is important to examine first the relationship between the internet and the aspects of social involvement and as well, the psychological well-being of generation Y. Generation Y, there is an association between increased internet use and decreased social involvement. In addition, feeling lonelier and an increase in depressive symptoms is another factor attributed to reliance on the internet among generation Y. A study conducted on a sample population reveals that high internet use has a relation with a decrease in communication between family members (West, 2011).
The main disadvantage experienced by Generation Y comes about because of the issue of cyber bullying. Many young people interact through social networking platforms that do not give them an opportunity of meeting with friends and acquaintances physically (Wood, 2010). While using technology-based platforms such as Facebook, people rarely reveal their real identities. This creates mistrust between people developing their relationships through these platforms. Studies reveal that there exists large data and cases of negative aspects of social networking and incidences of cyber bullying and victimization of the users of social media.
With the advancement of technology, there is the opening of new ways of sharing information and ideas using electronics, texting through cell phones as well posting comments or some videos on websites. Traditionally, the youth faced bullying from others through face-to-face interaction. This includes the use of electronic communication to send threatening or intimidating messages to a person. Research reveals that there exists a prevalence of occurrence of cyber bullying ranging from 15-32%, with the General Y population. National survey conducted on the youth revealed that there are twice as many youth reported as a victim of harassment in the year of 2005 as compared to cases reported in 2000. This suggests that cyber bullying increases with the advancement of communication technology (West, 2011). On the other hand, the issue of cyber abuse (bullying, unwanted sexual advances and stalking) should have a serious approach method developed for dealing with them. This is due to the detrimental effects that they have on the victims.
Despite technology playing an important role in promoting friendship relations between the members of Generation Y, it highly affects their perception to their offline fiends. Considering social networks platforms such as Facebook, despite a youth having many friends in their account (whom they do not interact with regularly either while online and offline), these friends forms a basis of comfort for the member of Generation Y. This is in terms of the tangible (as numbered in Facebook). Apparently, even friends who are far distances play the role of comforting.
This is in contrast with previous connections used by other generation before incorporation of technology in interpersonal communication. Apparently, rather than Generation Y viewing these networks with their long distant friends being pointless and stressing in maintaining, they view these connections as comforting grounds when they face challenges in their lives. In other words, this type of interaction and connections based on technology is a dormant network (connection where users do not have an obligation of interacting with others but considers the connection comforting due to its existence). In contrast, these networks poses challenges in their day-to-day interactions with other people within the society. This is because they appear to depend highly on the offline dormant connections without concentrating on people who physically surround them.
Technology, as a great threat to interpersonal communication, affects people’s perception to Generation Y. social media, a major communication platform used by Generation Y, influences people’s perception of these individuals. In most cases, people judge Generation Y individuals not only from their impressions but also on their posts in the social media. An example is Facebook profiles and posts on other people’s profiles. Therefore as a due to the overreliance on technology as a media of communication, individual judgment begins with their online activities in the social media. Social media reveals Generation Y ideas and thoughts. Therefore, they highly play a role in determining the nature of these individuals and as well their online interactions with others. Research reveals that people’s perception influences their interaction with other people and as well influences their interpersonal relations. Therefore, as a threat to interpersonal communication, technology determines people’s perception of Generation Y that in term affects their physical interaction.
Unlike with other past generations relying on interpersonal communication in their daily activities and interaction, technology forms a basis that influence the use of friends and social support of friends. As stated earlier, many friendship ties over the internet are dormant in nature. Unlike in the past generation using interpersonal communication during their interaction with others within an organization, Generation Y perceives friends as an online network. This implies that despite some being new to the users, they appear physically for increasing the online network. This on the other hand may lead to partial attachment to online friends. An example lies when a user is responding to Facebook friend requests. This is in contrast with previous generations that highly respected ‘friends’. Therefore, technology appears as a killer and destroyer of interpersonal communication since the intimate and high reliance of friendship (which is a basic approach of interpersonal communication within the previous generations), is depriving as Generation Y is using technology for their communication.
Technological communication has also caused addiction, which has relations on anxiety disorders (Birchmeier, 2011). A good example is addiction to use of the internet and cell phones. Research carried out on a sample of youth revealed that almost 79% of Generation Y members spend their nights on social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype (West, 2011). This is results in addiction to online chatting with people from other regions, as well as family, friends and co-workers. Because of this addiction, there are numerous strains experienced by the body (Borgman, 2003). In many cases, eye problems arise due to the computer brightness. More so, some even experience backaches that result from remaining seated for long hours while using computers and as well while chatting with others. These disorders have a great negative impact not only on the individual suffering from it but also parents of the individual. While dealing with eye disorders and backache, there is encountering of some costs. Studies reveal that 5% of youths who extensively rely on computers for communication experience these disorders
In addition, another effect arising due to reliance of technology as a channel of communication among generation Y is affecting of language majorly. The mode of writing used in technological communication is quite different compared to the speaking language. Technological communicating language involves mostly short forms and abbreviations that cause wrong interpretation, and as such, the purpose of communication fails (Borgman, 2003). With the continuous use of technological communication language, the normal speaking and writing language will fade eventually. On the other hand, with Generation Y, it is hard for the individuals to interact with others of different ages due to the language barrier resulting from their reliance and adoption of shortened language through SMS and instant messages. Therefore, despite the role played by technology on communication, it also has a great impact on language use with Generation Y (DeVito, 2009).
Technology use has affected how people behave; their character traits are different. The use of text messages and online chatting are not genuine modes of communication, meaning that what a person may be saying may not necessarily be what that person intends (DeVito, 2009). For instance, someone may be angered but send a polite message to the person on the other end. This means that avoiding interpersonal communication creates room for hiding human feelings. Technology is not considerate of that human aspect of socializing. Unlike technology modes of communication, interpersonal communication makes people have knowledge of each other and people cannot become hypocritical when facing one another because non-verbal cues. Therefore, with the use of technology-oriented methods of communication such as Facebook, Instant Messages and texting, it is hard to learn the other person’s reaction since there is no direct face-to-face link between both parties.
Technological communication can be impolite at times. It can be vulgar because of the distance between the two communicating parties. There is no fear hurling abusive words to one another especially on social media, because the person abused may be unknown to you and it is easier having a war of words (Borgman, 2003). It only requires typing a few words to offend another person; this includes those who do not advantage to engage in a physical encounter with another being. The vulgar use of language causes inappropriateness during interpersonal communication between individuals who may have abused one another on social media and this enmity is not good for the peace of the society. Another instance of impoliteness caused by the technological gadgets is that they create hindrance for interpersonal communication by consuming all the attention of someone (Phillip, 1990). For example, someone sending text messages or chatting via social media may ignore the presence of someone sitting next to them and would otherwise be communicating with them; this is impoliteness and negatively affects interpersonal communication.
Lastly, technology is affecting the manner in which Generation Y present themselves. In interpersonal communication, impression is a key factor. While using technology, it only offers self-presentation platforms such as blogs, and web pages. Through these platforms, other people are able to access other people’s ideas and thoughts. In a professional context, there is application of impression. However, with the high reliance on technology among Generation Y, they are facing a challenge of impression management. As a result, interpersonal communication skills of impression are disappearing as Generation Y members are relying on technology as their channel for communication.
Generation Y is a group of people in the society prone to influence from different sources. Technology is one of the most growing trend over time. It has its effects experienced by different generations depending on their sway to it. Each generation bounds itself to fitting in the current trends. Invention of mobile phones led to people relying on voice calls without necessarily travelling. With the current growth and spread of internet connections and social sites, Generation Y has developed its reliance on these platforms for communication. As seen in the research paper, technology has a great influence on interpersonal communication. Generation Y individuals experience many cases of cyber bullying. More so, they lack interpersonal skills of communication. Therefore, technology appears as a killer of interpersonal communication between people.
Birchmeier, Z., Dietz-Uhler, B., & Stasser, G. (2011). Strategic uses of social technology: An interactive perspective of social psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Borgman, C. L. (2003). From Gutenberg to the global information infrastructure: Access to information in the networked world. Cambridge, Mass. [u. a.: MIT Press.
DeVito, J. A. (2009). The interpersonal communication book. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.
Pew Research Center Internet Project Survey. (January, 2014), www.perwinternet.org/fact-sheet
Phillips, G. M., Wood, J. T., & Speech Communication Association. (1990). Speech communication: Essays to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Speech Communication Association. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
West, R. L., & Turner, L. H. (2011). Understanding interpersonal communication: Making choices in changing times. Boston: Wadsworth.
Wood, J. T. (2010). Interpersonal communication: Everyday encounters. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Characteristics of web-based communication
Communication on the web is not quite the same as communication in a face-to-face situation. As the communication is based on text, reading and writing, you have to rely on the writings of other people when trying to decide what kind of people they are. There are also other characteristics of web-based communication, e.g. distance, temp, the possibility to return to the discussions.
Communication on the web increases the student's anonymity, as the physical appearance does not have an effect on communication. Sometimes it is even possible to communicate without your actual name on the message, meaning that total anonymity is achieved. Partial or total anonymity can make participating to collaborative work easier, and for example otherwise shy students can benefit from it. On the other hand, it can also make participating more difficult, because fellow students seem more distant and personal relationships are more difficult to make. Whichever is the case for you, do remember that the people who seem perhaps distant to you when you are working with them over the web are people just like you!
Not actually seeing other people while communicating with them makes interpreting their messages more difficult than in face-to-face communication. When interpreting, remember to take your time when trying to understand what the writer tries to say in his/her message. If you are not sure about the message, use the possibility to check the meaning - that is conversation!
When you write a message to others, either by e-mail or to A&O's discussion board, remember that the message will stay there for others to go back to it even after the discussion is over. So, choose your words wisely and read through the message before sending it, just to make sure that the others understand it in the way you want them to.
Discussions during the courses often have a set timeline. It is important to follow them, as discussions on the web end easily if the messages are not answered soon. The temp is often surprisingly quick!
On the other hand, the temp is always slower than in face-to-face conversations. This gives a good chance to take part in the conversations even to those students, who otherwise have difficulties to express themselves. Use this opportunity!