A recent article in the Wall Street Journal claims that mobile technology has made people less sociable. With the increasing accessibility of smartphones and tablets, it’s also becoming increasingly easier for people to stay online and in their social media profiles. Apparently, that leaves a huge impact on how they socialize in the real world.

Online Connection is Different from Real-Life Bonding

facebook-76536_640According to a Pew Research survey, 71% of American adults have Facebook, and of these Facebook users, 45% check their profiles at least several times daily.

Being on Facebook entails looking at other people’s profiles, leaving comments on their posts and leaving posts on their wall. One would think that the Internet is actually a good platform for people to socialize. But for social psychologists, this can’t be farther from the truth.

What these online friendships do, say experts, is keep people from cultivating actual, more meaningful relationships.

Technology Feeds Anxiety and Vice Versa

In a study conducted by social psychologist Larry Rosen, it was found out that among 1,100 teens and adults, the majority of those aged under 35 couldn’t stand a few hours without checking their smartphones and tablets. Heavy users showed high levels of anxiety and unease when they were told they couldn’t use their mobile gadgets.

Anxiety feeds this behavior, says Rosen. The constant need to check phones comes from the anxiety of not knowing what’s going in the virtual world.

Additionally, it was found out that rabid smartphones users are people with either clinical or non-clinical social anxiety disorder. Those who can’t engage in real-life interactions turn to online faux bonding as a more comfortable alternative.

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The problem with this, experts claim, is that socially anxious people tend to rely on social media, which doesn’t really offer the value of face-to-face communication. In fact, experts say they may be detrimental to the emotional health as they interrupt real human bonds.

“If we are constantly checking in with our virtual worlds, this leaves little time for our real-world relationships,” says Rosen.

In the Defense of Social Media

Other experts, on the other hand, claim that contrary to the notion that online social networks replace face-to-face sociability, they only supplement it. Their argument lies in the logic of meaningful online presence.

They say people can still expand their social horizons on the Internet, deepening and extending their connections to the world around them. With technology, people can take advantage of constant connectivity to make their close relationships even closer.

It all still depends on how people use or misuse the power of social media and technology altogether.