As our generation becomes more accustomed to using new technology, observing the trends for increasing digital media usage highlights some stark realizations about the changes our generation has — and raises questions about our future.
Pew Research Center, a non-profit research organization dedicated to quantifying growing population trends, has documented the growing use of digital media communication in a variety of studies. One such study, “Teens and Smartphones,” used telephone interviews and focus groups with teenagers to gauge population trends.
According to the study, “texting is the dominant daily mode of communication between teens and all those with whom they communicate.”
Sixty-three percent of the teenagers in the study reported exchanging text messages with close friends every day, while only 33 percent communicated face-to-face daily outside of school.
The reliance on texting as the primary communication medium alludes to its many benefits, such as ease and simplicity. However, texting lacks the deep, personal connection of face-to-face conversation.
Bart Wojdynski, assistant professor of communication at Tech, focuses his research on the psychological effects of online media use, with particular emphasis on design and technology characteristics.
Wojdynski feels digital media is great for some modes of communication, but for others, such as deep emotional connections, face-to-face communication is more appropriate.
“(Digital media) is great for many things, but you lose a lot of emotional depth in the interaction, such as the ability to comfort,” Wojdynski said.
But while some forms of digital media are not conducive for various qualities of deep interpersonal interactions, the development of technology is providing opportunities for interaction which were not previously available.
Wojdynski said several technological advances, such as Skype and Facetime, have actually given access to face-to-face encounters in situations where it was previously impossible
“Video was prohibited before, but the speed of data bandwidth we have available makes it possible,” Wojdynski said. “Technology will work to provide a more realistic experience, bridging the gap between our offline worlds and our online worlds.”
Jessica Groves, a sophomore communication major, is currently working on a research paper addressing the phenomenon of new media technology for her philosophy of technology course.
“My argument is that we have so much potential to use new media technology since our generation adapts so quickly,” Groves said. “However, we might not reach the potential because we have a myopic apathy — we don’t seek things out like we used to.”