Changes In How We Interact With Others

In our ECMP 355 class last Tuesday, we looked at educational technology and how technology has changed and evolved over time. There were two pictures that really struck me both in an upsetting and confusing way. The first was of a group of teenaged children walking outside together and every single one of them is on their phone texting. Personally, I see two problems with this picture. The first is that there is no interaction going on among this group of teenagers. The second is that while walking, the teens are pre-occupied by their phone which can be dangerous. This is something that people of all ages can be seen doing. In fact, I decided to do a little experiment to see how common it is for people to be texting and walking or texting while in a group. I know that this is not a scientific experiment at all but I think the data I collected is still enough to show how common it is for people to be texting and walking or texting while with others. On Thursday January 29, 2015 I sat in the Riddell Center at the University of Regina for half an hour. I counted how many people I saw walking alone and texting, how many walking in a group or pair where at least one person was on their phone and how many walking in a group or pair where no one was on their phone. My results were:

  • People walking alone and on their phone- 19
  • People walking in a group or pair with at least one person on their phone- 41
  • People walking in a group or pair with no one on their phone- 33

I had always thought that the growing popularity and accessibility of cell phones had been the cause of a decrease in face-to-face interaction between people. However, after seeing the second picture of a bus full of men all reading the newspaper I am not sure that this is true. In the picture, we do not see a single cellphone. However, we also do not see any interaction going on among the men. I am not denying that cell phones have changed the way we interact with others. For example, we are now able to have more frequent, shorter conversations and have adopted a texting language. But I don’t think more people having cell phones has been the cause of people not having face to face interactions while in a group of people because we have always had things like newspaper, books, iPods, hand held games, e books, or tablets. These devices are also responsible for pulling people’s attention away from the people they are with. I think we have just started to notice it more.

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