Whether it be for texting, calling, social media, banking, playing games, or the ability to google anything you want anywhere you are, you more than likely own a Smartphone. Most people use them for all of the above situations and then some. Let's not deny that Smartphones are incredibly convenient and no matter your household income it is encouraged to have one to be "normal". I mean, when was the last time you saw someone with a flip phone? Even my Grandma has a Smartphone AND a Tablet. If you are a part of Gen X, Millennials, or anyone younger the expectation to have one is even greater.
I recently read an article by Ira Hymen, Ph.D in Psychology titled "Cell Phones are Changing Social Interactions". This article was written in 2014, however, most of the content is still relevant. He stated "Having a cell phone completely changed my social life. That is what my sons told me after we finally got them cell phones when they were in high school." In the article he goes on to describe an investigation he and his colleague conducted on how people use their phones for social interaction and their stand on cell phone etiquette. The study was broken down into 4 age categories; the youngest was 18-24 and the oldest was 50-68. His investigation provided the following data:
- over 90% of all participants made fewer than 10 phone calls each day
- more than 80% of the over 50 group send and receive fewer than 10 texts each day and calling or email were their preferred method of communication.
- Younger generations not only used text way more but also expected quicker responses from friends
- Younger generations found text messaging in multiple scenarios as acceptable (some scenarios listed were "having dinner with friends", "in line at the store", "in church", and even "intimate situations")
- about 15% of young adults reported breaking up with someone over text and 25% reported being dumped over text.
- No matter the age group, everyone expected quicker responses from their significant other when it came to texting.
Most of this information is not really groundbreaking. What I found interesting was his statement that younger generations do not have a "cell phone addiction". Rather, this is social interaction which we "Internet Natives" have learned to effectively maintain and enhance our social relationships while older generations are still learning to keep in touch in the modern era.
While I agree that younger generations generally text more than older generations, I disagree that the majority of younger generations feel cell phone use is acceptable etiquette in any situation. As stated above, this article was written in 2014 and, while it has only been three years since the article was written there have been many changes to cell phone usage and technology. It is clear to me that older generations are jumping on board with Smartphones more than ever; using them for everything the younger generations use them for. Text messaging and phone calls are not nearly as relevant as they use to be for any generation, so I thought it was odd that his study was based solely on those two aspects.
While I agree with Dr. Hymen in that cell phones are the future of social interactions, I disagree that it is not an addiction. When people are using their phone while driving, in the restroom, at social events with friends, and constantly checking their phones throughout the day it speaks volumes on how much we actually rely on them. I read in another article that most people do not have their cell phones more than five feet away from them at all times and have severe anxiety if they feel they have lost it.
Smartphone use has become part of Structuralism. The majority of society not only owns a Smartphone, but uses it in nearly every aspect of their lives. There is even a new text language that has been developed to help people communicate their emotions more effectively through their phones. Abbreviations, slang, and emoticons are commonly used. If you do not own a Smartphone you are seen as off and outdated by society.
Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory definitely applies to modern day Smartphone use. Phones have become a part of our subconscious in the way we interact. We do not think about texting someone rather than calling them; we just do it. We do not think about checking our social media; we just find ourselves with our phone in our hand scrolling through our Timeline on Facebook. There is a subconscious need to constantly have our cell phones near us that many people cannot reasonably explain. I don't know about you guys, but this seems like a slippery slope to me. I think we could all benefit from more time away from our phones and not let them control our lives.