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The realm of technology is ever-changing and the new technological advances have transformed the way people communicate. Debating on how the technology has changed the way we communicate and connect with other people seems to be the topic of the day.
Technology has allowed people to keep in touch no matter the distance. One is able to communicate 24 hours around the clock, seven days a week, 365 days on an interpersonal level.
What are the impacts of technology on communication? How do technologies mediate and change the ways in which humans communicate? How has the emergence of internet, mobile phones and social networks affected our communication in our daily lives?
This paper tries to find answers to these questions and examines how technology has advanced with age as well as discussing the impacts of technology particularly in the area of communication.
To begin this examination and find answers to these questions, we begin by defining media and communication and outlining the stages of technological advancement from old age to the present day in the field of communication. The paper will highlight the use of internet, newspaper, radio and other media but it mostly dwell on the use of mobile telephony.
Communication is “the imparting or exchange of information by speaking, writing or using some other medium” (Daniel & Rod, 2011). On the other hand media is defined as “the main means of mass communication (television, radio and newspapers) regarded collectively.”
Advancement of Technology in Communication
Technology has changed everything in the modern society. The way we communicate has been revolutionized by the advancement of new innovation in the telecommunication sector. Connecting with other people with ease is more feasible in today’s world and this is due to speed.
Several centuries ago books and news papers reigned as the only choice of communication. Then later, innovators brought the radio and television before innovation was taken a notch higher with coming of the personal computer (Johnson, 1997, p.3).
With every new innovation, the reliance on books and newspaper as the mass medium of communication continued to reduce. With time, the human culture has come to understand the power and the mechanisms involved in technology and invention. In today’s world the information has permeated in the cycles of change and development.
The world today, past and present can be studied at ease with the growing information technology. The technology has advanced with sheer velocity allowing different media to shape our thinking and habits. The people who were born during the television era thought that it was the climax of innovation but they suddenly found themselves acclimating to a new medium of the World Wide Web.
Every time a new medium rolls out the perceptions towards the previous media you were used to changes (Johnson, 1997 p5). Technology proved to be powerful in the sense that no human being can predict what will change and what won’t with certainty.
The irony of it all is the fact that the influence of technology extends beyond generations to come. It is with no doubt that technology has changed the lives of human beings; information and entertainment is being received in a more convenient way.
The innovation of having a conversation using a devise called telephone changed everything in communication. This became magical and one couldn’t believe such innovation would exist (Tofts, 1997, p.40)
Media Technology and Online Communication
With the emergence of new media technologies consumers have been empowered to ‘filter’ the information they want to receive. This allow them have a choice of which news to watch or what information to listen to (Palmer, 2003 p.161).
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Media consumption has been made an engaging experience with marketers studying the preferences of the consumers in order to reflect broader social changes in the society. In today’s world, computer is seen as a multi-purpose machine with work and leisure functions therefore creating more value.
The rise of internet has also made it possible to have virtual offices where the user can work from home or any convenient location. The flow of information from different media has greatly changed the social structures of the society at different levels (Barry, 1999).
Digital media has enabled news and event to be channeled in real time. The combination of internet and commerce has given birth to e-commerce sites providing huge potential for the marketers to reach out to the virtual communities.
In the world today, there are numerous media screens within our surrounding. This ranges from the television sets in our houses, computer monitor at the office, mobile phones and MP3 players in our pockets and handbag.
Even when shopping or waiting to board a plane you’re most probably staring on screens with entertainment media (Soukup, 2008, p.5). Heavy marketing has been adopted by producers of mobile technologies targeting the consumers who possess mobile phones with picture and video capacity (Goggin, 2006, p.170).
Media texts producers have termed the mobile media as a “third screen” a device that consumers carry around with much ease. Unlike television screens broader communication networks has been integrated in personal computers and mobile phones (Goggin, 2006, p.9).
The train, buses and airplanes have been dominated by mobile screens providing passengers with entertainment as well as other media content especially the advertisements (Caron & Carona, 2007, p.17). With a lot of commercial media content the preferences of people changes in their everyday lives.
The world of popular media has become chaotic with hundreds of television channels to choose from, thousands songs ready for download and not forgetting millions of web pages to surf.
The emergence of social media like facebook and twitter has enabled people to manage interactions and relationship with many friends. Technologies have impacted on interpersonal communication enabling people to interact more often than before.
In addition to reducing distance between people online communication with tools like facebook and twitter enable people to keep track of their contacts with friends and are more aware of the last time they interacted with them. Online communication now incorporates more than one mode of contact to include text, voice and body language.
The Impacts of Mobile Phone on Communication
Mobile phone is a device that has always been seen as connecting people who are far apart thus overcoming the geographical distance between them. The number of mobile phone users has continued to increase substantially. The mobile phone has been integrated as part of people lives in the sense that it’s available and easy to use keeping us connected to our families, friends and business people (Ling, 2004, p.21-24).
The how and when way we use our mobile phones impacts on our communication not only to those we’re communicating to but also the people within our proximity. At this point, it is paramount to note the changes that have taken place and that have allowed the adoption of mobile phones. The tremendous proliferation of this device has drastically changed the traditional communication model.
Who are the users of mobile phones and for what purposes do they use them for? Has there been any change in the way mobile phone facilitates communication? How has the face to face interaction been affected by mobile calls? Has mobile communication enhanced relationships?
These are some of the questions that arise when we try to fathom the way communication has affected our personal and professional lives. There are sentiments that mobile phones have reduced humans to be emotionless beings.
There no doubt about the revolution brought about the use of mobile phones in the way we communicate. There have been different perceptions among individuals and social levels in the society in regards to mobile usage.
When we had fixed telephone lines that were put in a booth, telephones were seen as a business tools only and were placed in a fixed quiet environment. There was restriction when it came to teenagers using these phones (Agar, 2003). The ‘birth’ of mobile phones brought changes and phone calls became a habit to many irrespective of age or location.
Today, people can use mobile phones wherever they are in private or in public. People have been addicted to their mobile phones more than any other gadget known to man with the device remaining on throughout. Its portability enables people to carry it wherever they go (Castells, 1996).
A personal virtual network has been created whereby users can be available at all times to communicate with friends, family and colleagues. The geographical barrier has been destroyed making people feel close to one another and the face to face communication has been rendered rather less important with this mediated communication (Richard, 2004, p.22).
Meetings and briefings have become obsolete with the communication being mediated by a computer or a phone. The mobile SMS (short messaging service) service and internet has become the most preferable communication channels for most of teenagers and young people all over the world (Plant, 2000, p.23).
There are places where mobile phones have become taboo devices, places like church and crucial corporate meetings. At such places mobile ring is seen as a nuisance. In other scenarios it is seen as a destructive device by acting as a third party and especially to dating couples who want to have a private conversation.
Any phone ring is seen as an ‘intruder’ and this harms the relationship between the partners (Plant, 2000, p.29). In his research, Plant observes that there are those people who use mobile as ‘a means of managing privacy where calls are carefully selected’. He categorizes this group of people as ‘hedgehogs’.
The other category is those people who use mobile phones as key central part of their life. They become so attached to the device and cannot do without it. Plant referred this group as ‘fox’. They are regular users who need to feel connected with their families and friend. Their life will be dreadful if they lack the device (2000, p.32).
Telephones have promoted the use of text messaging and modernization since it’s allowing people to communicate more both verbally and texting in a more convenience and efficient way. SMS has made communication to be more immediate ad users can customize the message at ease with the various applications installed in their mobiles (Richard, 2004, p. 100).
The advanced phones have email support as well as multimedia messages making chatting become a lifestyle to many who conduct business and those initiating intimate communication. It has emerged that SMS has made people become more united.
Users have developed abbreviated messages which are now universally accepted as an appropriate language. The initial purpose of the phone to make calls has even lost taste with many people especially to the young generation.
According to Reid &Reid, more than 85% of teenagers prefer texting to talking on their mobile usage (Reid & Reid, 2004, p.1). There is ease of communication when it comes to texting in the sense that some formalities are eliminated making communication more personal.
Texting has helped the introverts who may lack skills to have phone conversation allowing them to express their true self towards other people leading to greater understanding and stronger relationships (Reid & Reid, 2004, p.8).
The use of mobile technology has affected the personalities of people to a great extent. Today, more people are hiding their feelings, and whereabouts behind mobile phones and this has raised suspicions among families, friends and couples.
People go through text messages of others just to find out more about the individual who might even have no clue about what is happening. Contrary to this most people believe that mobile is so crucial in enhancing relationship between persons no matter the distance and that it bond us together more than it separate us (Plant, 2000, p.58).
The usage of mobile phones by children and teenagers has changed the way parents bring up their kids. Parenting has really changed as the parents try to increase their surveillance and monitor their children mobile usage.
Their concern is to know who communicate with their kinds and the kind of conversations they normally have. They are worried about the kind of social network the children create in their contact list.
With the emergence of virtual communities, the influence of mobile phones has spilled over and affects parenting in general. Nonetheless, the primary purpose of mobile phones to facilitate communication has not changed.
There is no doubt that technology has changed the way human communicate. Great impacts can be seen in the way communication has changed the social structures of our society at all levels. Even in years to come, technology remains the driving force of the way people interacts.
The advancement of technology ensures that the communication is quicker and that more people remain connected. There has been evolution in interpersonal skills with the advancement of technology and users should always been keen in adapting to new ways of communication.
Technology has continually brought new methods of communications leading to the expansion of the mediated communication. The reality of having one messaged shared across a huge audience (mass communication) is now with us. A situation where neither time nor geographical can limit the accessibility of information.
We have seen the merging together of newspapers and books with computer technology so that the frequency and ease of reporting information and advertisements can be increased. The exposure of both individuals and society to the mediated communication has therefore affected our daily lives particularly on our culture and the way we communicate.
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