The smartphone has allowed the working persons in a family to extend the time they can work and the time they are available for contact. This has led to an increase in household income and production efficiency for the firm they work for. It has also allowed us to keep contact with friends and families who are in another geographical region. The fostering of these bonds help reduce stress related to the separation of these relationships. With the continuation of these relationships and the ease of forming business contacts, people can now network while at the supper table by sending a quick message to someone in a different time zone.
Socializing and communicating with smartphones in a family setting
The use of smartphones has greatly changed the way people communicate with each other. Noting smartphone usage within a family setting, socializing has become more self-centered. In a family setting as well, a smartphone can be both beneficial as well as problematic. Exploring how smartphones are used in a family setting, the appropriate time and place can be determined on how and where to use them. Some questions can be asked then about their usage in a family setting. Do smartphones actually interfere with family lives? Are smartphones a problem to family communication?
Smartphones have changed the way families communicate. Their usage is not limited to children, but to the parents as well. With applications that allow for instant communication around the world, anyone can contact someone, no matter their location. This would allow for personal communication and stimulation. However, as personal communication is satisfied, physical contact would decrease as a result. As stated by Heather Kennedy-Eden (2014), she mentioned in her report that the use of smartphones in a family setting has made people emotionally detached from others around them even though they are physically present. Thus, smartphones that are being used primarily for personal communication while limiting outside communication can be problematic. When does this outside communication affect the lives of family members?
Areas where smartphones can interfere with family lives are typically during times of communication where the entire family is required. Time, where the family can bond, is essential for healthy family lives (Kennedy-Eden, 2014). These bonds are important as they help with function and interaction within society. One of these major interactions with society includes the discussion of current events – both political (parents) and childhood lives (children). Some of these essential bonds are created during both family events and discussions during the dinner table. Family events are times where the family are together and communicating such as game nights and movie night. As well, the dinner table is critical as life events are typically discussed. If smartphones are used inefficiently during this time, family members can miss out on life-building communications that could affect their social lives. Even though their usage seems to make it problematic, they can be critical for family communication.
As stated by Erick Oduor et al. (2016), “Mobile phones, in particular, are critical for domestic communication and coordination; they provide families with a way to coordinate actions and activities from nearly any location at any time.” Smartphones then, do provide families with positive communication with proper usage and implications. An example of this would be smartphone usage during a family vacation. In an unknown area, smartphones can be used to find accommodations, restaurants, and directions. Smartphone usage in a situation such as vacations then promotes healthy communication between family members when discussing vacation plans and ideas. In addition to vacation planning, smartphones are capable of instant communication to other family members as previously stated. This instant communication can achieve tasks, create discussion, and send notes for family members involved. Something such as getting groceries after work or reminding others to finish chores, instant communication can allow for easier completion of tasks. Smartphones work for one-off times and events as described above, but smartphones can also work during the typical lives of family members in-home.
There are times where smartphones can be used during times of typical family communication. The smartphone has to play a part in influencing communication between the family members involved. As with the family vacation, the smartphone is used to aid in communicating with other family members rather than self-communication. An example of this would be the use of smartphones to play party-oriented games. Games such as Quiplash, Fibbage, and Drawful from Jackbox Games (n.d.) are examples of games that use smartphones for engagement. Smartphones are used to play the game to which family members interact with each-other based on the answers submitted for the game. Thus, smartphones are used for family entertainment and do not constrain the communication between the whole family.
With several positive uses for the smartphone in a family setting, it is a highly beneficial tool that can allow for enriched communication and entertainment when used properly. In addition to the positive communication and socialization aspects of smartphones, they do have a negative side to them as well. With proper and effective methods of limiting the use of smartphones, in-person communication among family members can be maintained while having specialty uses for smartphones for certain situations. Something as simple as not using the phone during a family dinner, family movie night, and playing with board games can allow for person to person communication that human culture needs to thrive. As well, using smartphones for enriching family entertainment, productivity, and planning can allow for a positive experience that can further communication than compared to without smartphones. Thus, achieving a balance for smartphone usage can allow families to disconnect from smartphone addiction and imprisonment and reconnect to family members and society as a whole.
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