So Here’s My Number

How Smartphones Foster Communication


Phones don’t make us as antisocial as some people think. In fact, I’d argue they do the opposite. Social media and smartphones allow people to connect with each other more easily than ever before.

It’s a common belief, especially among older generations, that smartphones have made kids and teens disconnected from the world and each other, only engrossed in their online persona. People believe that teens are addicted to their screens and therefore don’t talk to people face-to-face. While this is true to some extent – some people do take time online too far and become antisocial – I believe that, when used safely and intelligently, smartphones can be a great way to connect and communicate with people.

Texting and messaging online is a great way to keep in touch with friends you don’t see very often in person. I don’t get to see one of my closest friends in person that much, but we text or FaceTime almost every day. If it wasn’t for a phone allowing me to communicate with her all the time, I don’t think we’d be nearly as good of friends as we are now. We first met in person, but now we talk more over the phone than face-to-face.

Not only do phones help us connect with our in-person friends, but we can also make new friends from all over the world. With the speed of the internet, someone from Kansas can send a text to someone from California, England, or a tiny island in the Southern Hemisphere in an instant. Texting or calling, as opposed to writing a letter, is a much quicker and easier way to make friends from many different cultures.

The Covid-19 quarantine was a great example of how phones help us to stay connected. While everyone was stuck at home, unable to visit friends, human interaction was still happening thanks to platforms like Zoom. If we didn’t have a way to communicate with the people we couldn’t see physically, quarantine would’ve been a lot more lonely than it already was for some people.

Some social media can bring people together who have common interests. Apps like Reddit or Discord have communities about hundreds of topics, ranging from your favorite TV shows, movie franchises, or book series to pictures of animals looking confused. I’ve used social media to discuss my favorite shows with other fans and share opinions and theories. I sometimes gain a new perspective on things after reading what someone online has to say.

A lot of times, online communication is supplemental to in-person communication. Sometimes I will text a friend to see if they’re available to hang out. Other times, I’ll see a friend in person and have a conversation, then continue the conversation through texts after one of us has to leave.

Research has shown that smartphone usage reflects a person’s personality. One study has found that people who engage in texts and calls usually engage in more face-to-face interactions and describe themselves as more extroverted than other people. If you’re a naturally sociable person, you’ll communicate more in person and online. If you’re more introverted and don’t talk face-to-face much, you likely don’t text or call as much, either. Having access to a smartphone doesn’t mean you won’t have conversations face-to-face.

Smartphones don’t make people less social, they just offer a different way to be social. Face-to-face communication isn’t obsolete, it’s just one of the many ways people interact today. Someone who spends a lot of time on their phone or social media can be just as social, if not more, than someone who only has in-person conversations.