The Effects of Technology on Interpersonal Communication

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During the past few decades, modern society has experienced significant changes in several areas due to improvements in technology. According to DeVito (3), technology is the art of modifying and applying the knowledge of tools and techniques to solve problems and improve existing solutions. Since the inception of technology, tremendous innovations that linked to the internet have helped to bring the society of our day forward consequently making life more convenient and enjoyable. As a result, it might be difficult today to imagine the possibility of life without the internet. Today people can access the internet via their mobile phones while other devices are synchronized with the internet. Since the inception of the internet, communication has undergone tremendous evolutions. Therefore, technology has not only made global communication easier but also faster compared to handwritten mails that used to take weeks or even months to reach the recipients. This has been facilitated by the invention of email, and the social media. Although technology has helped to improve and personalize communication with those far from us it may have negatively impacted how we relate and communicate with people around; those we can see and touch. More particularly, this has been due to the ease of accessing the internet, especially the social media sites. The invention of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram, and Tumbler among has led to significant changes in our interpersonal skills. This research will focus on how technology, and in this case the social media, has negatively impacted interpersonal communication.

According to the definition by Zachary, Dietz-Uhler, and Stasser (30), interpersonal communication refers to face-to-face communication between two or more people, where there is an exchange of information from the sender to receiver. Interpersonal communication can either be direct or indirect, and other than exchanging information, people can exchange their emotions. According to Gerald and Wood (11), interpersonal communication differs from other modes of communication in that it does not only deal with the language used by the communicators but also with how the message is communicated. Therefore, interpersonal communication considers the language used, facial expressions, body language and other non-verbal cues. Therefore, to put it in perspective, interpersonal communication gives people opportunities to express their feelings to other people around them.

Negative Impacts of Social Media on Interpersonal Skills.

Communication via the internet has resulted in changes of the day-to-day activities carried out by generations in the 19th and 20th centuries. Generation Y people seem to have more activities over the internet compared to the previous generation. Social networking is one of the factors that is influencing interactions between people that live in different regions of the world. Social media has enhanced support exchange and individual relation relationships between members of generation Y. Nevertheless, since the innovation of mobile devices that had the ability to connect to the internet, the society unconsciously turned these devices into an unwanted addiction. Takao, Takahashi, and Kitamura (502), states that although mobile phones are useful and attractive as communication tools, there is the risk of their problematic use. Many people have become addicted to their mobile phones because of their social strength. The social media has seemed to give members of Generation Y a type of false security by believing that the ability to speak with another at the swipe of their smartphones rather than in person. The following are some of the negative impacts of technology on interpersonal communication.

False Comfort

Although technology plays a major role in promoting friendship in the contemporary world, it significantly affects how people perceive their offline friends. For example, in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, people have many friends who in most cases they do not regularly interact with while online and offline. These friends become a sort of comfort especially for most young people during challenging times. This is in contrast to the interpersonal communication of past generations when technology had not spread globally. Rather than seeing virtual social networks with long distant friends as worthless and stressing to maintain (Owen, 37), they see them as a source of comfort during challenging times. Internet-based interactions and connection are dormant and do not create any obligations for the users to interact. Therefore, they consider these connections comforting because of their existence. Nevertheless, these connection challenge their day-to-day lives because they alter their interaction with other people in the society in which they live in. They seem to be highly dependent on their online friends who are not obligated to interact and fail to concentrate on people who are in their physical spheres of contact.

Cyber Bullying

This may be termed as the main disadvantage with internet communication. Many people using that interact through social networks do not have the opportunity to physically meet with the people they interact with (Wood & Raj, 53). While interacting through technology-based mediums people may tend to shy away from revealing their real identities. As a result, it creates wariness between people building their relationships through these mediums. Research shows that there are many cases of negative sides of the social media such as cyberbullying and victimization. Technology has created new ways of sharing information and ideas through devices connected to the internet. People can express themselves and share their sentiments by posting comments and videos on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook among others. In the same line, people send threatening messages to people. According to research by Kassandra, Vaterlaus, and. Frost, the rate of cyberbullying ranges from 19-46% (1097). Part form cyberbullying, cyber abuse which refers to activities such as unwanted sexual advances and stalking is also a severe problem that has been caused by technological developments in communication.

People's Perception

Although technology is a great communication tool, it affects how people think about others. In most cases, people are judged from their impressions, their posts, and comments on social media. The severity of these has reached unforeseen levels where companies and organizations sometimes observe their employees and would be employees' profiles on networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Personal judgments begin with people's online activities on social networks. This is because one may assume that what people tend to share, comment and like on Facebook and Twitter reveal their thoughts and ideas and ultimately their personalities. Therefore, the social media plays a significant role in determining people's nature as well as their online communications with others. Therefore, the social media's threat to interpersonal communication determines people's perception of its users especially the young generation which consequently influences their physical interactions.

Support from social media

Unlike in the past where people relied on support from their communities, today people tend to rely more on social media friends for support. Although it is always said that technology reduces the world into a global village, the perception created by this phrase is detrimental to interpersonal relations and interpersonal communication. Unlike in past generations when people relied on highly respected friends, people used to the online community rely on their online friends. For example, when someone sends a friend request on Facebook, they may not necessarily be close to the person they send it to, although the person may accept the request. As a result, this creates a sort of "false confidence"through the number of friends that one has which he/she may think may be dependable while they are not. Therefore, intimate and reliable friendship which is the basis of interpersonal communication is destroyed.

May Perpetrate Impoliteness

Sometimes communication through the social media tends to be impolite and vulgar. This is owing to the fact that people do not fear hurling insults and unkind words not only because of the communication distance but also because the person may be unknown (Borgman, 90). The vulgarly leads to impropriety in interpersonal communication between people who may have insulted one another on social networks. This may, in turn, affect interpersonal communication among members of the same society where there are different races and ethnic groups.

Consumes One's Attention

For someone chatting on Whatsapp or Facebook, they may ignore the presence of someone else sitting next to them who they could otherwise be communicating with. This always impolite and negatively affects interpersonal communication.


In conclusion, we should not be carried away by the positive impacts of technology in communication and forget its negative side. This is to mean that we ought to recognize them and try to find ways we can fix them.  

Works Cited

Birchmeier, Zachary, Beth Dietz-Uhler, and Garold Stasser, eds. Strategic uses of social technology: an interactive perspective of social psychology. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Borgman, Christine L. From Gutenberg to the global information infrastructure: access to information in the networked world. Mit Press, 2003.

DeVito, Joseph A. "Interpersonal Communication Book, The, 13/E."New York, NY: United (2013).

Gahagan, Kassandra, J. Mitchell Vaterlaus, and Libby R. Frost. "College student cyberbullying on social networking sites: Conceptualization, prevalence, and perceived bystander responsibility."Computers in human behavior 55 (2016): 1097-1105.

Hargie, Owen. Skilled interpersonal communication: Research, theory and practice. Routledge, 2016.

Phillips, Gerald M., and Julia T. Wood, eds. Speech communication: Essays to commemorate the 75th anniversary of The Speech Communication Association. SIU Press, 1990.

Takao, Motoharu, Susumu Takahashi, and Masayoshi Kitamura. "Addictive personality and problematic mobile phone use."CyberPsychology & Behavior 12.5 (2009): 501-507.

Wood, Christopher, and Rajendra Raj. "Keyloggers in Cybersecurity Education."Security and Management. 2010.

December 12, 2023

Lifestyle Communication

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Social Media Generation Y

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