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How cell phone use is changing communication

It has become fairly common to see people walking around with their heads bent down, their attention fully occupied by their phones while their fingers are busy texting or scrolling the screens. In the US, there has even been talk of fining pedestrians for “distracted walking”, i.e. using their smartphones while walking on the streets. The landscape of communication has changed dramatically in the past few years. But the question is, how much of that change is for the better?

According to a 2015 survey by the Pew Research Foundation, about 8 out of 10 adults believe that using phones in social settings frequently or occasionally has a negative impact on the conversation. However, using cell phones also makes an important part of the socialization process and is not necessarily completely "anti-social". About 38-45% of participants in the Pew survey used phones to either search information of interest to the group or post pictures or videos of a get-together.

Cell phones have made it so much easier for us to connect with people across the world—even if that might have been at the price of some of our close relationships.


Monitor on Psychology, January 2016

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