How Mobile Phones Are Changing Our Social Habits

from the making-us-ruder-and-later dept

New research on how mobile phones are changing our social habits has suggested the obvious: we’re ruder, we’re later, and we’re slaves to our phones. However, there certainly are some benefits as well. We’re more likely to stay in touch with friends and family who have moved far away. We’re more spontaneous and less rigid about how we run our lives. The study also found that, for the younger generation that has grown up with mobile phones, communicating by phone is the equivalent of face-to-face meeting. They also discovered (no surprise here, either) that it’s the kids who end up teaching their parents how to use mobile phones. However, there were some interesting differences, depending on culture. In the US, where punctuality is usually seen as important, mobile phones make us later. We’re more likely to schedule things spontaneously, and then reschedule at the last minute via mobile phone. However, in South America, where punctuality, traditionally, has been less important, people using mobile phones tend to see the reverse. They’re on time more often, and are increasingly upset with those who are late. There was one universal aspect of mobile phones, though, that everyone felt, no matter what their age or background: having loud private conversations in public places was bad. In general, they discovered that it was people who were new to the mobile phone world who did so – but they learn fairly quickly. Maybe this means that in the future, once everyone is used to having mobile phones, this won’t happen so frequently.

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