Technology has evolved rapidly over the past two decades thereby becoming an integral part of people's daily lives. Smartphones have served as one of the central technologies that have changed the entertainment, business and interpersonal communications among people. Most importantly, they fulfill the demand for access into the social world. As a result, they have affected the personal relationships as well as physical interactions. In the research paper the way smartphones affect people's relationships in the society is analyzed (Salehan & Negahban 2).
The main purpose of the research is to illustrate how smartphone has affected relationships between parents and children, friendships, and other social relationships. In the paper it is noted that smartphones have transformed almost every aspect of interactions in the modern society. The use of smartphones has been characterized by numerous negative impacts which they have on relationships. However, the same features that have led to the negative impact can be exploited so as to enhance the relationships in the society.
The history of smartphones dates back to mid- 1990s when Apple Company introduced the first smartphone in the market. Smartphones were initially designed for use by corporate enterprises and were too expensive for general consumers. However, this history can be divided into three phases. The first phase relates to the late 1990s when smartphones were used only by corporate enterprises and were customized to fit the requirements. Blackberry Company is credited for having started this revolution by introducing features such as email access, web browsing, and camera (Reed 4). The second phase started with the debut of iPhone in 2007. In this phase, smartphones became available for general consumers. The phase gained momentum with the unveiling of Android Operating system by Google. Moreover, the features were simplified for general consumers and the costs were lowered in order to attract more customers. The last phase was characterized by closing of the gap between general customer centric and enterprise centric smartphone. In addition, the display quality, technology, batteries, mobile operating systems and user interface were improved and customized to facilitate the use by the general customers.
Since 2008, the usage has raised significantly thereby changing cultural norms and behavior of individuals. The impact of this use has been felt in the social life where it allows users to surf, text, talk, initiate and end relationships (Reed 6). Additionally, it allows people to take photographs and share them with others. Social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have enabled greater connectivity with others. Therefore, these changes have ultimately led to changes in relationships between parents and children intimate relationships, as well as other relationships (Nurfit 2). Most researches have not been conclusive in analyzing the effects of smartphones on relationships. This research sought to analyze relationships from all the perspectives. It therefore shows both positive and negative consequences:
Destabilization of Relationships
In the research it has been found out that digital interactions have caused destabilization in various relationships. Smartphones may transform one to a non sympathetic and selfish individual who does not care about other people, but the fame he or she acquires in the social media. It was identified that people tend to become indifferent to the realities of everyday life. Additionally, they lose emotional attachment with people around them. Conversely, this people get attached to virtual digital life and become dependent on the virtual world. As a result, they lose connection with real people. Additionally, teenagers may acquire negative interaction mechanisms from the Internet resulting to the poor relationship with their peers, parents and also teachers (Srivastava 120).
Loss of Communication
One of the most significant elements of relationships relates to effective communication. Communication breakdown among partners, as well as, parents, and children may result to serious relationship issues. There are several ways on how communication can be ruined. First, some people engage in long conversations, in social network instead of conversing with people who have personal touch and relationship with them. The most important and urgent conversations are foregone and replaced with non- urgent conversations. Thus, relationships are ruined as partners or concerned parties have to seek alternatives for foregone communication. Moreover, activities that help people to socialize or get to know and appreciate each other are ignored. Concentration on non important and superficial matters makes it impossible for individuals to build any serious relationships (Srivastava 126). This applies to the relationship between children and parents, as well as, intimate relationships among couples. Parents who engage in excessive interaction in social media have no time to communicate with their children. As a result, children can start using various defense mechanisms to solve their problems.
On the other hand, couple who lose communication may fail to establish concrete intimate relationship. Intimacy can only be established through, trust, honesty, self disclosure, as well as, setting of emotional boundaries. In the research it has been found out that genuine intimacy has been eroded with the appearance of the smartphone. This gets even worse with appearance of addiction to these social network interactions. Thus, smartphones may result to addictive behaviors that impact negatively on the way people interact intimately and communicate with each other. The immediate consequence is that social and love life have become untenable due to frictions in daily lives (Fitriah 5).
Stress and Anxiety
In the research it has been found out that people addicted to their smartphones get anxious once their phones are separated from them. This is a clear evidence that these masses have become totally alienated from the real life. Consequently, they can no longer find pleasure or safety while interacting with other people. Conversely, they can find solace in interactions on social network sites. The immediate consequence is that children are unable to communicate freely with their parents while parents are unable to address the plight of their children. Parents who get addicted to smartphone use are also unable to establish cordial relations with their children. It is, therefore, evident that smartphones cause stress and anxiety in case of separation with the phone. This is contrary to the desired behavior when people ought to feel secure and have enough time to cherish the special moments. Thus, smartphones deny people time to interact and share with others who are close or count in a person's life (Fitriah 11).
How It Works
People have become attached to their smartphones to the extent they prioritize virtual world interaction. The addiction to smartphones is as strong as to anything else in their lives. Smartphones are portable devices and they are the most convenient devices for the Internet connectivity. Thus, addicts can use their phones at any place and anytime to interact on social media, watch movies and play games. These activities distract connections with one's present moment. The consequences are that people lose opportunities that could have helped to strengthen their relationship with family or friends. These opportunities may never happen again in the lives of those addicted people. Thus, smartphones play a role of extending the distant of interactions among people. As a result, the relationships are negatively affected (Srivastava 116).
During the research it has been found out that parents allow their children to have and use smartphones at a very young age. Therefore, this has a direct impact on relationship with other children and also their parents. Games distract children from the true essence of interaction. Thus, they disconnect them from acquiring the true identity. The kids also strive to explore and discover things on their own, as well as, develop their own identity without the influence of other people. The danger in this method is that the identity might not be appropriate for a child. The impact on interaction is that relationship with other children, parents, teachers and the whole society may prove difficult or else it might turn out negative (Fitriah 10).
Despite the many drawbacks, there are various positive impacts that can be obtained from the use of smartphones. These effects are a result of proper utilization of opportunities presented by smartphones.
Increased Connectivity with Friends and Family
Smartphones enable one to connect with friends and family even when they are distant apart. Time is usually limited for adequate time to communicate. Therefore, ability to communicate with people at any place and time enables users to maintain their social life. Users are also kept up to date with recent information and news what is resulting to reduced stress at work. Moreover, people get new information which is stored on their devices thereby making them better communicators. Additionally, smartphones help maintain social bonds and strengthen empathetic tendencies in an individual. These values act as a foundation of good interaction between people and the society. However, it is worth noting that these positive values can only be realized if smartphones are used for acquisition of only relevant interaction information from the Internet, as well as constructive communication with relevant people (Lundquist, Lefebvre & Garramone 83).
People with Special Needs
Statistics shows that about 15% of the world population suffers from a particular aspect of disability. Smartphone can, therefore, play a significant role in the integration process of the people with various disabilities. This is due to the fact that smartphones have features such as GPS social network sites that these people can utilize to communicate with the rest of the population. Additionally, it helps them to ask for assistance, as well as, express their needs (Lundquist, Lefebvre & Garramone 86).
During the research it has been identified that smartphones have influenced and changed the relationships among the individuals. These changes are both positive and negative. The negative impacts on relationships include loss of communication, destabilizing relationships, stress, anxieties, as well as, misplaced priorities. These challenges are also evident in children in young age who are allowed to have smartphones. However, the negative consequences on relationships can be transformed into positive. This is by ensuring the moderation in the usage of these smartphones. One can, therefore, assert that smartphones were well intended but have been exploited in the wrong way by the users. Therefore, reasonable use of smartphones can result to the positive impact on relationships.