This sample communications essay explores the decline in communication due to technology and social media. It will take an in-depth look at the communication habits of younger adults.
Understanding the connections between technology and communication
These days, it seems as though we communicate more with our hands than our mouth. Not through gestures or signals, but through the messages we type out and send through various forms of communication technology. In the last ten years or so, the way that humans communicate has changed drastically. Mediums like email, social networks, and texting make it possible for one to go months without human interaction while still staying totally connected to the outside world.
Since 1995, the number of worldwide internet users has increased from sixteen million to more than two thousand million in 2012 (Brown 2013). As often as we use technology, there is no doubt that it has an astounding impact on society. Yes, there are be positive influences, as technology has totally revolutionized the way we do almost everything these days, but one of these impacts, unfortunately, seems to be primarily negative; the decline of communication in modern society.
We use technology for almost everything and have come to rely on it heavily. It has taken the place of alarm clocks, music players, computers, televisions, and even face-to-face communication. It has changed the way we communicate with each other, making it less personal than ever before. Adults are quickly losing social and communication skills while many children are never learning those skills in the first place (Luscombe 2014). The quality of our communication as a society has declined greatly due to technology as access to services like professional writing has increased.
The evolution of communicating with technology
An email was one of the earliest mediums of communication technology and is still very popular and widely used today. Though it started during the 1970s, it did not become popular until the 1990s and has remained one of the main forms of communication technology today. Even discounting the huge volume of spam messages sent, email is still the most popular form of online communication; an astounding almost two hundred billion emails are sent per day and there are three times as many email accounts as Twitter and Facebook account combined (Eastman 2013).
These numbers can be attributed to a number of things, including the fact that many people have multiple email accounts, and many businesses provide their employees with company emails addresses for work communication. The use of email has increased over the years, as well. Between 2011 and 2012, email volume rose 5.4% and recent polls reported that only 43% of cell phone users use their phones to make phone calls while 79% of people use them to check their email (Eastman 2013). One of the first means of communication via technology continues to hold its place as the most popular and is expected to continue to be so.
Texting and using shorthand to convey messages
We tend to think of texting as a newer technology, but texting has been around for almost thirty years. These days, it is used for communication more than actual phone calls are. Of cell phone users, almost three quarters use their smart phones for texting (Eastman 2013). People are more inclined to make an actual phone call if there is an emergency or urgent need to communicate, but texting is still more popular than calling. Over four billion text messages are sent every day in the United States and many cite the convenience as the main appeal of texting (Eastman 2013). It requires little effort to pull your phone from your pocket and type up a message really quickly.
Connecting with social media
Another popular form of communication technology includes sending and receiving messages through social media sites like Facebook, which is quickly becoming another substitute for verbal communication. Like texting, over four billion messages are sent via Facebook daily (Eastman 2013). Though less Facebook messages are sent every day than emails, it is almost equal to the same number of text messages and takes up a huge portion of the way that people communicate.
The popularity of messaging via Facebook can be attributed, in part, to how accessible Facebook is. Most people can access it from their cell phones in addition to any computer with internet access. An estimated 751 million people access Facebook from their smart phones, a 54% increase from March of 2012 (Eastman 2013). These high usage rates mean that less time is spent communicating face-to-face. Almost one-quarter of Facebook users report checking their accounts more than five times per day (Eastman 2013). Relying on social media for communication has a significant impact on interpersonal relationships.
Other social media sites also contribute to the decline of verbal communication. Networks such as Twitter, Instragram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn have seen huge increases in use for communication in recent years. Over 163 billion tweets have been sent since the inception of Twitter, which comes out to an average of about 175 million every day (Eastman 2013). Still, though, Instagram is used more often as a means of communication than Twitter is. In August of 2012, social media users spent an average of 170 minutes on Twitter compared to 257 minutes on Instagram (Eastman 2013).
In addition, more than five million photos are uploaded to Instagram every day and they obtained over fifty million users in two years; within six months, they saw an increase in visitors by over 700% (Eastman 2014). Other sites, like Pinterest and LinkedIn, appeal to smaller demographics; the former is used primarily by women while the latter is used mainly for business connections. Still, every site mentioned continues to rise in popularity and gain users and are expected to continue these growth trends in the future.
The effect of technology on socialization
There is some concern that social media impacts society and communication in a negative way. According to a psychology study by UCLA, there is validation to this concern. Scientists discovered that sixth graders who spent five days without using smart phones, television, or other digital screens did considerably better at reading human emotions than their classmates who spent hours looking at electronic devices every day (Wolpert 2014). While many people are excited about the benefits of digital media in education, not all are looking at the risks that come along with it. Patricia Greenfield, professor of psychology at UCLA, believes:
“Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues- losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people- is one of the costs. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.” (Wolpert 2014).
In their experiments, UCLA scientists studied groups of children who attended a camp in which electronic devices were not allowed and groups of children that did not attend. At the beginning of the study and then again after five days, they tested the children on their ability to recognize other people’s emotions in videos and photos. The children who attended the camp improved significantly over the five day period in their ability to read nonverbal communication cues and facial emotions than the students who did not attend (Wolpert 2014).
Findings indicated fewer errors from the kids who attended camp after the five days and were the same across genders. The group of kids tested, both the ones that attended camp and the ones that did not report spending an average of four and a half hours every day watching television, playing video games, and texting (Wolport 2014). This research indicates that the less time spent participating in face-to-face communication, the more social issues that children develop.
Agree? Disagree? Order an essay today to argue your perspective.
Technology is so deeply integrated into our society that it in inescapable. Many taxi cabs now feature small televisions that air the news, doctors conduct virtual appointments online, and children under the age of five know how to unlock a phone or an iPad and open an app. Despite our immersion in technology communication, however, it is clear that technology has contributed greatly to the decline of communication. It has been proven by various studies to negatively affect the communication skills of both adolescents and adults and can even disrupt the development of social and interpersonal skills.
While some adults are able to retain a portion of their social and communication skills that they acquired before the rise of technology, it has been shown in some cases that it can seriously inhibit a child’s ability to develop these crucial skills that they will need to obtain and hold jobs and be contributing members of society. Despite the fact that there is a substantial amount of research that supports this information, the popularity of technology communication in its various mediums has only been increasing, making it vital for argumentative essays like this to highlight the dangers of this trend. It is abundantly clear that its rise will continue, meaning that the negative effects it has on communication and society will likely continue as well.
Brown, Cecelia. “Are We Becoming More Socially Awkward? An Analysis of the Relationship Between Technological Communication Use and Social Skills in College Students.” Diss. Digital Commons @ Connecticut College. Connecticut College., 1 Jan. 2013. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
Eastman, Hayley. “Communication changes with technology, social media.” BYU: The Digital Universe. Brigham Young University. 7 Jul. 2013. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
Jayson, Sharon. “2010: The year technology replaces talking.” USA Today. USA Today. 30 Dec. 2010. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
Luscombe, Belinda. “Why Access to Screens Is Lowering Kids’ Social Skills.” Time. Time, Inc. 21 Aug. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
Simons, Sean. “Technology destroys interpersonal communication.” Collegiate Times. Collegiate Times. 27 Oct. 2010. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
Watkins, Joseph. “Technology and the Decline in Communication Skills”. NR Ohio Marketing Students. NR Media Group, LLC. 1 May 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
Wolpert, Stuart. “In our digital world, are young people losing the ability to read emotions?” UCLA Newsroom. UCLA. 21 Aug. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.