How Technology Has Made Us More Connect or Less Connect?

Question by : How technology has made us more connect or less connect?
I’m writing a paper for school and I need a little help and ideas

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Answer by protexya
In this age of social networking, you’d wonder how anyone could ever feel lonely.

But the more you use technology to communicate, the lonelier you are likely to be. That’s according to a recent survey conducted by Relationships Australia, a community-based support services organization.

“Forty two per cent of Australians who used an average of four methods of technology to communicate [such as email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter] were lonely compared with 11 per cent of people who used only one,” says Sue Miller, a manager at Relationships Australia Queensland.

The 2011 results, which come from polling 1204 people over the age of 18, also challenge the idea that elderly people are society’s loneliest.

The data reveal that people aged 25-34 were most likely to frequently feel lonely (27 per cent) and that young adults aged 18-24 are the second loneliest group; 19 per cent frequently feel lonely. For those over 70 years of age, the figure was 11 per cent.

Miller says she was surprised by the results which also showed respondents who indicated they frequently felt lonely were more likely to use Facebook to communicate with friends, family and potential partners (54 per cent) than respondents who infrequently (39 per cent) and respondents who never (28 per cent) felt lonely.

“What we don’t know is which came first: was it that they felt lonely and they used technology as a means to lessen their loneliness; or are they using more social media and that is increasing their loneliness?” explains Miller. “We now want to look at that question in more detail.”
The online/offline balancing act

There’s no doubt that technology can bring positives to our relationships – just think how many people today meet their partners online.

When the Relationships Australia survey asked respondents whether they believed social networking had a positive impact on relationships 54 per cent of those aged 18-24 said it did (although this figure decreased as the age of the respondents increased).

But mixed with this positivity is a worry that virtual communication – whether it’s via social networks or SMS – is no match for a face-to-face get-together.

“The quality of online communication is impoverished in comparison with the physical, real world face-to-face communication,” says Dr Catriona Morrison, an experimental psychologist at the University of Leeds in England who has studied the link between depression and internet addiction.

“You often don’t hear someone’s voice and you don’t see any body signals, which we know from traditional psychology are important.”

Morrison’s observations are mirrored in the Relationships Australia survey, where respondents listed having less face-to-face contact and spending time on the computer at the expense of being with other people among the main ways social networking can harm relationships.

Morrison says it’s important to be aware of how much time you are spending online.

“It’s like any addictive behaviour … where you have feelings of a loss of control, where you [are] going online for many more hours than you intend and you are replacing face-to-face relationships with online relationships,” Morrison says.

“That’s where the problems occur.”

As to whether loneliness drives people to the internet or whether the internet and social media lends itself to behaviours that lead to loneliness, Morrison says that, in all likelihood, it’s probably a bit of both.

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