One of the modern world’s greatest inventions – the digital device– can also be one of its greatest downfalls. As with so many other developments of the technical age, smart phones and tablets can be used in a healthy or an unhealthy way. An entire branch of study is developing: Cyberpsychology.
Anyone with a smart phone or other device is connected to the world at large 24/7. You can communicate through email, social media, texting and messaging to anyone at any time, about anything. Information and conversation can occur at the speed of light.
This ready access to a digital world also means that argument, disagreement and verbal violence also occur at the speed of light. The shallow, virtual connection with the person on the other end of the conversation can make the user feel free to express any thought or feeling without regard for consequences. Direct face-to-face interpersonal communication is very different, when facial expressions, body language and tone of voice come into play.
There is no doubt that modern technology offers a level of education, relationship and social connectedness that was not available to earlier generations. But in these times of divisiveness and strong opinions, reliance on virtual communication can have negative ramifications.
According to Cyberpsychology.eu, “While using social media can have positive benefits associated with community engagement, education, social connectedness, and identity development, it can also lead to risks linked to social rejection, cyberbullying, depression, exposure to inappropriate content, and other negative consequences related to general well-being.”
Another risk is addiction to the virtual world. When the majority of your relationships and interactions are digital, you may find that you have lost the ability to be still, and to connect deeply with other people and, in fact, with yourself. With a smartphone close at hand, many people will reach out for a connection with texting before connecting “live” with a friend. When that digital connection rules your life, it may be time to seek help.