Is The Smart Phone Really Killing Conversation: I Don’t Think So

We are constantly hearing how the smart phone and technology in general are killing the art of conversation in the family home or in fact in our general lives. This got me thinking is it really that different to 30 years ago before the internet had been invented to the degree of where it’s at now?

Anything and everything is accessible just by a touch of a finger or google had even been thought about. Let’s be honest we would be lost without google, but it’s just an extension of the reference book that so many of us used to gather the information we needed before the internet arrived.

Is the smart phone or tablet or gaming console just taking the place of the newspaper or the reference book, and have the games consoles of today just taken over the place of the ping pong game you could play on the TV? It was one of the simplest games ever, but incredibly addictive! I remember playing it for hours and not having a single bit of conversation with any member of my family.

It so easy to blame technology for killing the art of conversation. It’s actually almost a convenient excuse to blame our kids and teenagers for not talking to us, but is that really any different from years ago? It’s not. Let’s be honest how many of us as teenagers sat down with our parents and had a full on three hour conservation? Not many I bet. I know I never did.

When I travelled years ago on a train or bus did I strike up a conservation with whoever was sitting next me? Not a chance! My head was buried in a newspaper or a book just like the person sitting next to me who was doing exactly the same thing.

I truly believe the generation of today are so lucky to have so much knowledge so accessible in their right hand on a smart phone, or a tablet or a laptop. What it actually does in my opinion is that we now have a generation of people that are more informed and aware of everything that is going on in the world at any given time.

This actually I know from experience, enables the art of conservation. In the UK at the moment of course the big topic is Brexit. Every breaking story in relation to Brexit is available in seconds on your smart phone via social media. It sparks conversation. I have had long talks with my older children about the pros and cons of Brexit or other major issues in the world. I don’t think they would have been able to do that had it not have been because they have all this information on hand 24/7. Technology is educating our younger generations, and that in itself will always improve the conversation between us all .There is a knowledge and topic that we can all talk about because it’s there for us to read about and form an opinion on and then discuss it.

The smart phone and the numerous other technologies should be embraced fully and completely. They also have no limits. I was in London just before Christmas and everywhere I looked people had their phones in their hands, including me, and then I realised what a large amount of us were doing were using maps to get to our destination. It’s quite honestly brilliant! The times I have got lost years ago and ended up wandering around aimlessly totally lost. Not today! I will go straight to where I need to be. I’m not being disrespectful to map readers, but I never learnt to read maps and on a rainy, windy day I would be left holding nothing, while my map went blowing in the wind down the street.

The smart phone has far more benefits than disadvantages. In fact I struggle to see any disadvantages. The smart phone is here to stay and it’s going to get better and better and our children are not going to know what life is like without a smart phone. The truth is television, newspapers and books were my fountain of knowledge. The smart phone is our children’s fountain of knowledge.

Do you think newspapers and books have been replaced by smart phones and tablets? Do you think smart phones spark conversation?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

22 thoughts on “Is The Smart Phone Really Killing Conversation: I Don’t Think So

  1. I have to agree and disagree at the same time Nige. Yes, smart phones have become great enablers but also there are times when they should just be put away. Only recently for example, I was in a restaurant having lunch with my family and noticed a family across the way from us, two parents, a little boy, a baby and I presume the grandmother. The Dad of the family spent the entire meal on his phone, the mother hardly spoke to him and occasionally chatted to her mother/mother-in-law. It left the grandmother the only one interacting with the little boy. I see this time and again.
    Back in the day before mobiles, when I was drinking with my mates we would sit in the pub and chat and debate for ages. Now if there is a great question to be answered….just check Google, debate over.
    Don’t get me wrong, technology these days is necessary and I can see my kids embracing it already. But sometimes it’s nice just to put the phone down. #ThatFridayLinky

  2. I think it’s about balance. Technology itself is rarely the thing that stops conversation, but at times we need some ground rules to ensure it doesn’t take over completely. I have to say I’ve found the ‘screen time reports’ really useful in that regard too for me personally. I’d totally agree that creating conversation is key. #thatfridaylinky

  3. I agree smart phones have actually enhanced conversation but I don’t feel it will ever fully take over from books, newspapers and TV. They may be used less over time but they are still useful learning tools. There are plenty of positives of using smart phones but obviously we need to take care not to over use them and neglect real life. #ThatFridayLinky

  4. There’s a generation of people, like us, that remember a time before smartphones. We will always look at society and the way they are used now with a different set of eyes to those born into this world. I embrace technology and everything it can do for us. But, and I see this with my teenagers, it does kill conversation. On our morning drive to school, they are on their phones and not engaging with me. If I ask them to put them away it gets their backs up. So I don’t, as there’s no point trying to force conversation.
    But there’s a larger issue at play. Conversation is communication and being able to talk to someone, face-to-face is so important. Job interviews and dealing with people in your line of work for example.
    So balance is what is needed. I’m trying to teach them balance.

  5. Smart phones have replaced newspapers and books to a degree. Local newspapers can’t complete with Facebook, hence why they’re all goingo ut of business. Books,well, amybe not smart phones but they’re all on Kindle these days. I remain to be convinced that smart phones are quite the conversation killer we all think they are….but Emily’s post about getting the kids to play outside. That’s the real issue. be it a smart phone, games console or similar, kids need to learn there’s a time and a place for screens and they should put them down from time to time. Thought provoking post Nigel. Thanks for hosting #thatfridaylinky

  6. I’ve spent a lifetime in IT. When I was 11, long before the ‘internet’ was a thing, I was writing games on my ZX Spectrum. My professional career began in the late ’90s, just as the web started to gain ground. So, I’ve witnessed the transformation first hand and very closely. In my mind, there have been both advantages and disadvantages. Some excite me, others worry me.

    Yes, we have access to more information – but it can’t always be relied upon. Whilst once upon a time, watching or reading the news was in-depth and usually accurate. These days the rush to be first means it’s often full of speculation or inaccuracies.

    Being better informed has made us more fearful too, I think. Much of the bad has of course always been there, but now we’re more likely to hear about it. The more we hear about it, the more we worry about it. Perhaps that’s a good thing, perhaps not. It’s definitely changed the way most parents bring their children up though. When I was 6, I’d walk the 2 miles to school on my own – as did many others. Today, I wouldn’t dream of letting my children do that.

    The biggest worry I have is that smartphones etc mean we’re always ‘there’. It’s difficult to escape from everyone else without people thinking you’re being rude, or you’re in trouble. I also worry that it makes bullying ‘easier’ to do, and there’s less escaping it. In my day, if you were bullied in school it stayed in school – now it continues when you’re at home too.

    The other concern is that social media, in particular, allows us to paint a picture of ourselves and others that bare no resemblance to reality. We’re constantly critical of ourselves because someone else Instagram makes their lives look perfect. The reality, of course, is far from that. We’re old enough to, I hope, realise that. Children though are not necessarily so.

    While it’s true to say that children have always largely ignored parents, especially when they reach the teens, today I notice more and more parents ignoring the children. Every morning I walk into the school playground and see parents glued to their phones instead of engaging with their children. Young children are still eager to learn and talk with parents, but all too often they’re being ignored now – that, in my view, is a huge problem.

  7. I agree with the notion that we can’t roll back the clock on this one, and instead look for balance. There is a time and a place for iPhones, but kids need to have limits put on them using their phones because they are incapable of doing so themselves. But try and include them in this process – and show a good example ourselves and impose our own limits,m especially in the evenings. #ThatFridayLinky

  8. Public libraries are suffering and newspapers have to look to new methods of getting their readership but time moves on and things change. We instinctively try to keep a hold of what we love and know and sometimes change isn’t welcome, but it will happen anyway. Smart phones are amazing and incredibly useful in all areas of life. (One thing I don’t miss is having to use telephone boxes.) So long as you are not glued to them permanently then I think they are ok…but definitely not while having a meal together at the table. (Personal rule!)

  9. I think phones can be a distraction but not a complete take away from conversation. There’s a balance to be found. Lately, I’ve been putting my phone down more. It’s nice to be more engaged. #thatfridaylinky

  10. I am torn. I think that children need to put their tech down and go out and explore but I am also pragmatic enough to know that a complete ban is unlikely and unreasonable. We have to accept that communication has changed but also try to moderate our use. I don’t think spending an hour on messenger with your friends is much different to when we used to spend that time on the landline with friends. My smart phone is rarely far away from me but I always have it on silent so miss most of my notifications. I don’t think it will replace books but I am very glad that it has replaced paper maps!! #’thatfridaylinky

  11. I totally agree with the fact that smartphones are here to stay, and that they are such a useful tool. And also totally get your point about not chatting even when we didnt have screens back in the day. BUT I do also agree with an earlier comment about phones not having a place at mealtimes. It is important to chat together as a family sometimes, and I can see phones getting in the way of that. #ThatFridayLinky

  12. My mind is now a bit frazzled to be honest having agreed with your partner’s post about getting outdoors more and away from too much technology. Then you make very valid points about the advantages of smartphones and so on. It is true as part of our home education journey my teenagers learn so much via technology. They share some of that with me and I learn too. The other day during all the Brexit deal vote and No Confidence Debate my teens were so knowledgeable and engaged and they have done a lot of that themselves forming their own views along the way. As a very wobbly home educator, it was a day when I thought we were absolutely on the right track. As with so many things with life, it has to be about balance and I find that is a lifetime’s work in itself. I was lucky to have long conversations with my parents when little and then as a teenager they started going out separately sometimes so I would have quality time with each of them on a one-on-one basis. Mum would talk with the telly on but Dad would switch it off and we would put the worlds to right. It is something I really miss with my husband who does task-oriented conversations rather than just for the joy of analysing, debating and so on. Well, I won’t babble anymore but as you can see you have got me thinking which is always a very good thing, I also think that our education system will need to change as children do not need to memorise information any more when it is so readily to hand via tech #ThatFridayLinky

  13. I agree and disagree with your points. Yes smartphones have become a great reference tool but the reality is that if we read a reference book for example, we would then close it and put it down once we had the necessary information but with phones we then open another app, then have a scroll through social media, then play a game, then check emails, then send a message, then take a triollion selfies using a billion filters…..
    Everyone is so engrossed in hat is going on on those tiny screens that a lot of the time we are missing the big things.
    Personally, I find myself automatically checking Instagram quite regularly without even thinking about an often even find myself pausing the kids while @mummy just finishes reading this'(so not blaming it all on the teenagers out there because I know adults do it too)
    I’m trying to put my phone down more this year and enjoy the company of those around me….let’s see how long it lasts!

  14. Interesting that Emily has posted an article about getting your girls outside and not allowing tech but you are fully embracing the tech!
    I think iPads and phones are amazing. You can look up every fact you can think of, call your mum and play a game from a simple device. The mind boggles on what will be invented next tbh.
    On the other hand I do think that they are changing the way we socialise and, although there are many positives, there are also challenges. Our children are not learning to speak properly -I witness this in the classroom. My friend is a Headteacher in London and there are children coming to school not knowing their spoken name….yes, they don’t know their name because no one speaks to them! I know this is the extreme but we also have rising teenage anxiety which I believe is down to their idea that they need to be perfect. Their idea of perfection comes from the way they are comparing themselves to others around the world or on social media. I do agree with you that teenagers are not the best communicators ever and never have been but then, I used to talk to my friends on the phone all evening….none of this texting….real conversations with our friends.
    A great read though and one for discussion. I will read other comments with interest. #thatfridaylinky

  15. Tech is amazing and google has changed everything. I used to love encyclopaedias but they are so vintage now! I think the problem is that the phones are always with you. So when ever you are together as a family several members are always glancing down at their screen. Often they are doing useful things – but it’s relentless xx

  16. I have mixed feelings with this. I think technology is wonderful, we can access the news immediately, we can read and learn all the time, with the touch of a button which is wonderful.

    However, on the other hand how much time is spent thumbing aimlessly through Faceboook / Instagram, rather than conversation. Not for any reason. Not even looking at it. I do think that there is an issue with technology being stuck in our hands and that does kill conversations.

    This is why we implement rules about no technology when we eat. Having nights with no technology. To make sure we show the children that phones, tablets etc do not need to be in hand ALL the time. #ThatFridayLinky

  17. What a great post! I think smartphones can be a great tool for sparking conversation because they give us access to more information, issues, and topics we can talk about. Smartphones can hinder conversation when people use their phones when in front of other people, obviously. But if you think about it, the reason why people scroll their phones instead of talking to the other person is that sometimes we just don’t want to talk to that other person. So, using our phones is a less awkward way to kind of show that you’re not really interested in engaging with the person in front of you. I know that for a fact because sometimes my husband is more interested in looking at sports stats on his phone than talking to me. Lol. Well, at least I have my blog and Instagram! Lol. #thatfridaylinky

  18. This is a really interesting topic – I think today’s smartphones and tech are brilliant for a whole range of reasons, but I also remember growing up when all the smart tech that is commonplace today was still very much in its infancy. Obviously, there are lots of issues relating to technology (reliance on technology and social media negatively influencing mental health, to name just two) but at the same time, it’s a brilliant invention that really has changed the world.

    On the flip side, I still read books and still see people on trains reading newspapers, books and magazines just as you mention in the post. Maybe one day technology will fully overtake “physical” media, but for now, I think there’s definitely still a place for it in today’s society.


  19. Hey Nige, I have to respectfully disagree with you. While I do think that having access to information is wonderful, the actual smart phone has us no longer talking on the phone, with a higher incidence of texting. Look around at a restaurant, park, people together are all on their own phones, texting with others. We now talk in acronyms and without any grammar. Kids grab their parents phone and text a few emojis and a thank you rather than writing a note, the old fashioned and kind way. We smart phone owners are also tethered. We take this accessory everywhere, even in the bathroom. I see people texting and driving ALL OF THE TIME and that is frightening. Technology definitely has a positive side, but it isn’t in connecting our conversations, it’s disconnecting our culture. I long for the days of walking my pup without a phone. Being truly present without hearing the technological f@rt alerting us of a new message, alert, ask, or call.

    Mind you, I do not mean to rant, and I totally respect your opinion. I am thrilled my kids could look up The Roman Colosseum yesterday and the Leaning Tower of Pisa and learn about both. I just don’t know where the tech will end. We read books on kindles and real books, and having the mix at our fingertips is great. Oy, the modern day dilemma. #thatfridaylinky

  20. Thinking about it after reading your post I realise how many converations in our house (with the teens especially ) are started by something one of us have read onnline and want to discuss. I think it’s easy to demonise screens but as long as there’s a balance I think they definitely benefit us with providing knowledge #thatfridaylinky

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