Have you seen couples sitting at the restaurant waiting on their food, looking at their own smartphone, but still chatting? Or pedestrians walking across the street staring at their phone with only a glance at the traffic? Or maybe your friends are listening to you, while looking at their smartphone, when they suddenly interrupt you with: “Oh my gosh, this is hilarious!” Then they show you what they are looking at on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
These are all common behaviors of the current smartphone user. What is it about these little screens that make people look at them for so long? The answer is connection with their mobile world through various Apps.
According to Mobile Mindset Study, 58% of smartphone users cannot live without checking their phone for an hour, 73% of them feel panic, and even men get emotional. People check their phone everywhere: in bed, in the bathroom, during meals, while driving, and some even check their phone during church on Sunday. The percentages are especially high in the 18 to 34 age group.
Newsy recently posted Smartphones Could be History’s Fastest-Growing Technology showing how the increase of smartphone subscribers broke the trend of the relationship between technologies and GDP. The increase in subscribers in developing countries is more than 20% of the world total GDP. A Nielsen Company report shows the switch from voice calls to apps. On average in 2011, teens sent or received 3,339 text messages every month. They claim that texting is faster and easier than a voice call. However, the rapid growth of smartphone users shows that teens have become heavy data users, using popular apps like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pandora, pre-installed games, and instant messaging.
And this is not only happening in the United States. James Thickett, a research director at Ofcom (The Office of Communication) in the United Kingdom said: “New forms of communications are emerging which don’t require us to talk to each other.” Thickett says that, “Our research reveals that in just a few short years, new technology has fundamentally changed the way that we communicate.” In the United Kingdom, 40 percent of the people who own a smartphone mainly use it to communicate with others via the Internet.
The four major carriers in the United States (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile) all used to have smartphone plans with unlimited data usage. But in July of 2011, Verizon confirmed that it would ditch unlimited smartphone data plans. According to Nicole Lee’s analysis in True cost of a smartphone: Price plan comparison, the way people communicate is changing. The best example would be Verizon and T-Mobile: they have plans that do not require making a voice plan.
People are changing the ways they communicate, focusing on social networking apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Vine, WeChat, Skype or others. The variety of ways to get in touch with friends has indeed increased dramatically. 49.6% of the people download apps for communication as their very first app and people tend to re-use the apps they own.
Smartphones have brought lots of conveniences into our life: they are fast, effective, and more fun. However, it will be a problem if people rely excessively on smartphones and have problems talking to each other in real life. They may lack patience, have trouble focusing on more than one thing at once, and lack person-to-person communication skills.
– Yun-Sen Chan