Do 18 to 29-year-olds prefer Smartphones over People?

Jul 30, 2013

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We stand so close together, but we are so far apart

Remember the time when cellphones were rarely owned and even more rarely used? The sole function of the portable Motorola "brick" was to place infrequent calls. However, as the size of cell phones decreased, capabilities and pervasiveness have increased. Today it seems like everyone owns a smartphone and is constantly plugged in.

The relationship people have with their smartphones has altered the relationships people have with other people--particularly among 18 to 29 year olds. This demographic of users was recently surveyed to see how and when they use smartphones. The survey examined and indicated how close personal relationships are treated and how social etiquette is employed through social media.

While eating dinner with a friend, 54% say it is “slightly acceptable” to answer a personal phone call. In the same scenario, checking Facebook or Twitter is believed to be “slightly acceptable” by 37%, but “not at all acceptable” by 45%.

On a date, the 18 to 29 year-olds answered slightly differently. Most agreed that it is “not at all acceptable” to answer a personal or business call while eating dinner with a date. However, when the date goes to the bathroom, over 60% believe it is acceptable to send or read texts and to check Facebook or Twitter.

When using Facebook, the majority agreed that it is acceptable to tag and post photos of a person without their permission, even if you haven’t done it before. The constant use of smartphones relaxes the importance we place on personal relationships. This data suggests that young people feel the need to be plugged in with other social matters online rather than engaging with their matters currently taking place.

This complacency with personal, face-to-face relationships causes more people to “live” online, preferring a cellular companion to a human one.

So although cell phones are no longer sold in large, brick form, they continue to weigh heavily on their users. We need to be aware of our mobile use habits and try to limit use when in social situations to engage in what is happening around us. Relationships are more important than digital devices.

Parents should establish rules regarding smartphone use when children first receive a phone to prevent dependence later on. Net Nanny helps parents to control and monitor Internet browsing and app usage on Android phones and provides a safe browser for iPhones, iPods and iPads.  Therefore, parents can employ a "Net Nanny" to assist with instilling healthy mobile habits.

I work for Net Nanny and all opinions are my own.