The Digital Debate

Technology and Communication in Today’s Society

Remember what it was like to have a conversation with the person next to you regardless of you knowing them or not? People use to talk to one another, and now we are all little author’s to one another texting or typing away all that has happened in our day. From Twitter to Facebook people find ways to get around talking to one another just for the convenience of not having to do so. The office, classroom, dinner table, and even just hanging out at a friend’s house have all changed right before our eyes.


By: Samantha Fletcher

Growing up, no matter how busy anyone was or how busy they were, they ate dinner as a family. If they had things to do they would eat out at Wendy’s or McDonald’s but they always ate together. Once cell phones and iPods were invented they were not allowed to have them at the dinner table. In today’s society hardly any family eats together and when they do they are so involved with their cell phones and iPods they do not converse with their families. I am a server so I see a lot of what goes on when families eat out. The most common things I see are couples and families playing games on their cell phones rather than talking to each other. I even see some cases where the young children watch movies on a portable DVD player or a cell phone.

Technology is destroying communication in the families. No one wants to talk to their parents or siblings when it is so easy to talk to their friends. People today have so many ways of communicating with their friends rather than just face to face. They have cell phones to call and text, computers to e-mail and instant message, and they have social networking sites. All of these forms of communication take away from family time. Every day when my sister and I got off the bus we would spend hours playing together, she was my best friend. Today a lot of siblings don’t speak to each other when they get home. They go straight to their room and turn on their computers or call their friends.

Too much communication outside of the family isn’t the only thing taking away from family communication. Family communication is also hurt by television and video games. A lot of kids love to come home and sit on the couch watching their favorite television shows rather than hanging out with their family. They make the argument of they watch television with their family, but according to Barbara Sorensen “With the advent of Tevo and myriad 24-hours-a-day program availability, the family can literally sit for hours without speaking a word to each other.”

Families are really losing a lot of comfort with each other without communication. It seems like a lot of families living in the same house are strangers to each other. According to Sherry Turkle, “A high school sophomore confides to me that he wishes he could talk to an artificial intelligence program instead of his dad about dating; he says the A.I. would have so much more in its database” I feel like this is more common than we think. It seems like every time I get on to search for something a frequently searched question pops up that always seems to amaze me. Sometimes they are health questions and sometimes they are relationship questions. I do not think I would trust asking a computer for advice about health problems or relationship problems. If I need advice the first place I would turn is to my mom, my sister, or my grandma. They always say mothers know best and I am a strong believer of that. Everyone only has one family and they need to realize that. In the end your family will always be there for you. They will support you with the decisions you make. The computer may be able to give you advice but the anonymous person giving the advice won’t be there for you like your family will.



Remember the days when spending time with neighborhood friends meant walking to their house and ringing their doorbell to see if they were available to come play with you?  You would be outside with them from dusk till dawn, or until your mother forced you to come inside for the day.  How about the hours spent on the house phone with a friend you could not easily hang out with all the time?  Can you remember a time when conversations between friends consisted of something a little more in depth than:



what’s up?

ntm, you?



(End of conversation.)”

A majority of children in today’s society probably cannot even fathom what this would be like.  In Hilary Stout’s article, Antisocial Networking, she explains the change in generations and the way they communicate differently.  Stout says, “Even chatting on cellphones or via e-mail (through which you can at least converse in paragraphs) is passé. For today’s teenagers and preteens, the give and take of friendship seems to be conducted increasingly in the abbreviated snatches of cellphone texts and instant messages, or through [Social Media Sites.]”  This is not how strong friendships are built.  Children that are growing up in this technology obsessed generation are not losing social skills, they simply do not have them to begin with.  From the minuet they are born they have some technological device in their hand.  Though this may be an exaggeration studies have shown that children as young as two years old have already had interaction with technology.

Others that have studied technology and its tie to friendship argue that this is not a negative situation and that it in fact brings children together rather than drive them apart.  Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer, author of  “Making Friends: A Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Child’s Friendships,” believes that technology allows children to be connected to their friends twenty-four seven.  In Stefanie Olsen’s article, Does Technology Reduce Social Isolation, found that “people who regularly use digital technologies are more social than the average American and more likely to visit parks and cafes, or volunteer for local organizations.”

Despite the facts and percentages that are thrown around in the two articles I previously discussed I still do not see how the constant use of technology has helped the children of this generation.  Their friendships are built on Facebook friends and shallow, short conversations.  A mother of three boys interviewed in Stout’s article shares that she has found that her 17-year-old son “was keeping up with friends so much on Facebook that he has become more withdrawn and skittish about face-to-face interactions.”

I fear that this is where a majority of the children are headed in this generation.  How can they build lasting friendships if they can not even muster enough courage or even skills, to hold a sufficient face-to-face conversation?


What is work today? Every morning you see gridlock traffic with the same people every single day gritting their teeth because they have a business call. They freak out over a business call, but the way technology is today that call can just take place in their car wherever they are. Much of the older generation forgets how convenient technology can be, while the rest of their generation can’t seem to go a day without it. Why is it that people either barely use technology or it plays one of the key roles in someone’s life?

You can walk around an office today and still see people wandering aimlessly because they have no idea what the printer looks like, or how to fax something to someone. Some people have no idea how to check an email or for heaven sake how to send one. I know we are all thinking the same thing which is “How on God’s green earth do these people survive in the business world today?” Well they don’t many people don’t get jobs or they lose them due to the technical skills they lack. But why has that become such a problem? Many people chose to not use technology for the sole purpose of staying the way they were before it existed. It makes many people think that the moment they pick up that Iphone they won’t put it down until it is ripped out of their dead fingers.

Those people who don’t know how to put the phone down, or leave that computer is what I don’t get. For years people had to walk around the office to talk to one another, and actually go out and be with the public, or even walk to the post office to send mail. Now all you do is click a button and off your mail goes, it is convenient but I believe extremely overused. There needs to be more person to person interaction at work, maybe an hour or two a day just to keep people sane, and keep their personal skills fresh.

All I ask is for people to talk again. Just a few times a day people should make an effort to just talk to one another around the office. Some people work next to one another and have not a clue what that person does after work or if he or she has a family. So we should all try and meet people, not saying be that creepy guy at work that everyone avoids because you talk there ear off, but just the simple conversation.


By: Matthew Williams

The classroom, once a one room school house full of students and a few books, has dramatically changed over the last 100 years. Where once, the pencil, the chalkboard, or a book would have been viewed as radical new technology to the learning process, we now find ourselves as college students placed in rooms with high definition projectors, smart boards, sound systems, and computers. The evolution of technology in the classroom has drastically changed how students learn, by changing how the professor or teacher and the student communicate.

In ancient Greece, students filled large theatres and learned by doing nothing other than listening to their professors. Education was based solely on the communication between the student and professor. Picture the classroom of our parents, or even greater yet our grandparents. Our school age ancestors would surely have had a book on their desk, a pen or pencil, a chalkboard, and if they were in an advanced school, possibly a projector or film to support the lesson. In that time the teacher’s audible and visual keys were still the roots of learning. Students followed along and took notes from a chalkboard as the teacher lectured. Now look at the classroom of today. In some classes, the lecture is still present, but in many others the professors or teachers incorporate technology and change the communication in between student and teacher. A lecture in today’s age, may not only rely on the lecturing of the teacher, but perhaps a video, a sound recording from online, visual keys in the power point slides, and perhaps a more radical concept such as having guest speakers address the class from worlds away over an online connection. According to an article on Educational changes appearing in Harvard Magazine “Images now dominate a new style of teaching in which visual, audio, and interactive formats rule, often trumping words as the dominant means of communication”.

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While visual and audio references may in some situations be more effective in developing student’s understanding of the topic, in other situations the presence of a teacher physically lecturing in front of the class will be much more effective.

The classroom is an entirely different environment and system than it was even twenty years ago. Students now, instead of engaging the professor, can give information on their lesson retention through devices such as an iclicker, which is used for questions during the lecture where students key in their answers for points and send the results of their selection immediately to the professor’s computer.

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With the introduction of email, online submission, and even online classes and degree programs, the student may never have to hold a face to face conversation with their instructor, as all communication can be done online. Where once a student waited a week for the instructor to pass back a paper or test, and found it covered in red marks and explanations from the teacher, the student now waits on an email to open a document with criticisms and grades entered to an online database.

So where does this drastic change in communication in the classroom leave us? Today’s student’s will be influenced by technology in the classroom more than any other generation has ever been, which can both greatly benefit, and also harm the student in different areas. Today’s students are blessed to be presented with numerous forms of instruction through all types of media, and most students will have access to infinite resources online which will undoubtedly increase the breadth of a student’s education. However, should students begin to rely completely on newfound technology for education, rather than incorporating help from peers and instructors, they may never be able to listen and comprehend others as effectively, and will never develop the personal relationship between student and instructor that often eases the learning process. A balance much be reached where technology can be incorporated in multiple aspects in the classroom environment, without replacing the professor or instructor capable of reaching the students on a personal level.

It is clear that the advances in technology are affecting all aspects of life today. From friendships and family lifestyles, to work and the classroom, the effects of technology on our communication with one another, is becoming more and more evident.  Our society is at a time of great change, and we all must begin to adapt and accept the new forms of communication, while also preserving the styles of communication of the past in order to remain able to work with others, grow our relationships, and continue to learn.


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This entry was posted on November 16, 2012 by .
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