Experts say Technoference, the tendency to check phones or electronic devices constantly, affects social interactions and can cause anxiety and loneliness.
“Being too engaged in our technologies is not satisfying our natural need to feel a part of a community,” psychology instructor Laura Sanchez said, “leading to an epidemic in clinical psychology which we are now categorizing as loneliness.”
According to a study published on June 4 by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the average person spends nine hours a week on their cell phone and approximately 13 hours a week watching TV.
The study also revealed that a third of U.S. households own three or more smart phones.
The main concern among psychology and communications professionals is the anti-social divide a four centimeter-thick screen can create between individuals and their family and friends.
San Jose City College student Esmerelda Rodriguez, a computer engineering major, said she spends five to seven hours daily on her devices.
“Because of social anxiety, people feel more comfortable through social platforms,” Rodgriguez said.
SJCC student Justin Gregory, majoring in drug and alcohol counseling, said that increased technology usage “shortens people’s patience,” and he spends “roughly 100 hours a week” on his devices.
Even though he spends a certain amount of time on screen, Gregory said he hasn’t had a relationship dissolve because of technology.
“Society needs to be mindful to not rely on devices to make connections,” Sanchez said. “There needs to be a medium between usage. Text alone won’t make relationships last.”
Although there is a lot of speculation about the correlation between technology and social bonds, SJCC intercultural communications professor Sarah Burkhamer offered a different outlook.
“Technology requires skill and self-awareness,” Burkhamer said. “If one approaches it in a mindless manner with no goals, it may very well inhibit their ability to connect and move toward their goals.”
As a primate species, there is an innate need for humans to have social relationships and observation of emotion.
“We yearn for connection,” Burkhamer said. With intentionality, I believe technology can serve us and our relationships.”