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Shouldn't be a surprise: smartphones make you more social, not less

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Shouldn't be a surprise: smartphones make you more social, not less
It is a popular complaint/joke to make saying that people are becoming less social because of smartphones. Of course, if you think about it for a few seconds, you'll likely realize that isn't true; and, now there is a study that shows smartphones make us more social, not less. You may think that people tend to ignore those around them in favor of their smartphones, but the data doesn't bear that out.

Back in 2008, Keith Hampton decided to do a study by setting up cameras in public spaces like New York's Bryant Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and compare what he saw with footage of those same areas from the 1970s. After observing thousands of hours of people in those public spaces, Hampton and his team found that smartphone were rarely used in groups. Most smartphone users were alone and killing time on a break or waiting to meet someone. They just seemed more noticeable because smartphone users tended to "loiter" for longer times than those who didn't use their phones. 

And, while this idea wasn't present in the original New York Times article, we would also mention that those who were killing time on their phones weren't only playing games, they were interacting with other people remotely via email, text, messaging, or social networks. So, even some of those people found in the footage who were "alone" could have still been engaging in "social" activities. 

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posted on 20 Jan 2014, 22:20 2

1. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3534; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)


But, old people say that people don't communicate as much anymore... ❔❔

posted on 20 Jan 2014, 22:46 3

4. hurrycanger (Posts: 1075; Member since: 01 Dec 2013)


They have a different definition of communication. To those specific people, "communicate" excludes texts, emails, and all the digital social networks.

posted on 20 Jan 2014, 23:19 5

6. androiphone20 (Posts: 1422; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


As much as I want to agree with this study it is equally flawed, smartphones make us pay less attention to things happening around us and they are just too distracting. The loners are getting worse cause they now have a way to keep them from opening up and believe me nothing beats having a convo with a physical person cause you can read the persons gestures and behavior something that's hard to do when you're communicating through your smartphone. In some cases people are becoming more rude, like this one time when I stumbled upon a teenager that was so rude I grabbed her phone then I used a line from Jake and Amir that went by "time for you to disconnect PERMANENTLY"

posted on 21 Jan 2014, 01:13 2

8. hurrycanger (Posts: 1075; Member since: 01 Dec 2013)


Agree with everything you said. What I meant in the earlier comment is that whatever being mentioned in this article uses a different definition of "communication" than what old people think about communication. And to be frank, "being social" on a digital device all day can make an individual quite dumb in real life.

posted on 21 Jan 2014, 03:24

9. androiphone20 (Posts: 1422; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


I see, not that I was going against it but I was just adding to your point

posted on 20 Jan 2014, 22:31

2. Avenger827 (Posts: 46; Member since: 19 Jan 2014)


Let them say what they want, it doesn't matters what they think. 8-)

posted on 20 Jan 2014, 22:44

3. tiara6918 (Posts: 1391; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)


Instead of looking at a bunch of random strangers along the road, I just look at my phone and text someone if at times I feel awkward

posted on 20 Jan 2014, 22:50 1

5. androiphone20 (Posts: 1422; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


There's a ton of ways to socialize on your smartphone from Tinder, Ming, OkCupid, OkStupid, Meetme, Down, but OkCupid used to be my goto app for finding girls that are DTF cause it was that effective.

posted on 20 Jan 2014, 23:30 2

7. Dastrix (Posts: 587; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)


As with everything, there needs to be a balance.

posted on 21 Jan 2014, 05:44

10. alrightihatepickingusernames (Posts: 355; Member since: 29 Dec 2013)


In my experience people who have minimal face-to-face interaction are more awkward to talk to face to face. It kind of works the same way with people who have minimal digital interaction.

posted on 21 Jan 2014, 08:37

11. AntiFanBoyz (Posts: 85; Member since: 30 Nov 2013)


The problem is, like many other examples, a few bad seeds create an image problem for all users. I have several friends who have to be told they need to put their phones away. If not, they tune out of dinner conversations, they tune out of the TV show we're watching, they're absolutely rude with how much they browse reddit and facebook. Despite the study, it is a problem... maybe just only for a visible minority.

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