IELTS Charlie

Your Guide to IELTS Band 7

IELTS Model Essay: Technology and Relationships

This model essay is on the topic of the effect of technology on the kinds of relationships we form. It’s a 2-part, or IELTS direct question essay.  It is taken from Cambridge IELTS 8 .

Nowadays the way many people interact with each other has changed because of technology. In what ways has technology affected the types of relationships people make? Has this become a positive or negative development?

I will start by taking you through my 4 Step Planning Approach . This will help you to understand the structure of my essay and the ideas in it. Then you can read my essay. Finally I have included a list of useful vocabulary in my essay.

I hope you find it useful!

IELTS Model Essay Technology Effect On Relationships

First, I will carefully plan the essay.

Step 1: Understand My Task

What is the topic about.

The topic is about how technology has changed the types of relationships people make .

The phrase “types of” is important – it is encouraging you to talk about connections between people , rather than just intimate relationships (e.g. boyfriend / girlfriend), i.e. about relationships in a general sense. I think you need to cover this aspect in order to get a Band 7 or higher.

What kind of technology has changed relationships? I suppose things like smartphone, the Internet and also apps on phones and computers.

What is the topic NOT about?

The task is NOT about how technology has changed communication (although this will probably come into your discussion). It’s about how it has changed relationships .

How should I respond?

My task is to answer the 2 questions, so I need to:

  • say how technology has affected relationships
  • say whether this is positive or negative

Reword the task

It’s often useful to re-word the task to make it simpler and clearer, so i could reword the task like this:

How has technology (computers, phones, apps) affected relationships? Is this good or bad?

Step 2: Decide My Position

So what do I think? What are my answers to these 2 questions? What are my main ideas? This should just be a quick step, but you will probably start to expand your ideas in this step.

How has technology affected relationships?

  • easier to stay in touch with people all over the world
  • you can have a following / audience of millions via social media

Is this positive or negative?

Generally positive. 

Step 3: Expand My Ideas

Now I need to expand or develop my ideas . This is crucial if you are aiming for a Band 7 or higher in IELTS Writing Task 2 .

Step 4: Structure My Essay

  • smartphone apps like zoom, whatsapp and skype offer cheap or free communication that lets you text or call people on the other side of the world instantly
  • in the past, letters could take weeks and international phone calls were expensive
  • people on tiktok have built following of hundreds of thousands

Generally positive:

  • Can stay in touch with family, friends, former colleagues easily, so can sustain close relationships
  • People build relationships with wider network of people, meaning access to greater social capital
  • But a lot of these relationships quite tenuous and fleeting

So that’s my plan. It’s quite detailed…which means that when I write I can focus on my language, not my ideas.

Technology has changed the kinds of relationships people make between each other in significant ways over the last twenty years. This essay will consider two of these changes and whether or not these have had positive repercussions.

One of the major impacts of technology is that it has enabled us to easily stay in touch with friends and family on the other side of the world. Thirty years ago, if you wanted to communicate with a friend or relative, you would either have written a letter (which could have taken weeks to arrive) or made an expensive international phone call. Today, we can simply send a text message on WhatsApp or call them on Zoom. These technologies are either free or low-cost, and instantaneous. So it makes maintaining relationships over a long distance much easier.

Another big change is that social media has made it possible for us to build a relationship with thousands and sometimes millions of people. Some people on TikTok, for example, have quickly built an audience of millions and most people on Facebook have hundreds of friends at least. This kind of audience-style relationship was rare before the advent of social media.

I think that in general, these changes have been positive. It is now easy to maintain and build relationships with relatives, friends and work colleagues that you may previously have lost contact with. And it’s also possible to build a wider social network of people which you can tap into for advice and support. Access to this pool of social capital was almost impossible in the past.

However, it is also true that many of these relationships, especially those on social media, can be fleeting and tenuous. Is a Facebook “friend” really a friend or just a passing acquaintance? It’s therefore important that people don’t allow such relationships to displace close, nurturing friendships.

On the whole though, technology’s affect on our ability to stay in touch with people all over the world and to access a wider range of people has been positive.

(339 words)

Useful Vocabulary

  • the kinds of relationships people make
  • in significant ways
  • positive repercussions
  • major impacts of technology
  • to easily stay in touch with
  • on the other side of the world
  • an expensive international phone call
  • instantaneous
  • built an audience of millions
  • audience-style relationship
  • the advent of social media
  • maintain and build relationships with
  • lost contact
  • tap into for advice and support
  • this pool of social capital
  • fleeting and tenuous
  • a passing acquaintance
  • close, nurturing friendships

Fill In The Blanks Exercise

Without reading the essay again, try to complete the missing words from the essay. Many of the missing words are parts of collocations or word chunks. Good luck! (The activity is best done on a desktop or laptop computer).

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About the author

Charlie is a former IELTS Examiner with 25 years' teaching experience all over the world. His courses, for both English language learners and teachers, have been taken by over 100,000 students in over 160 countries around the world.

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In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Technology, Human Relationships, and Human Interaction

Introduction, introductory works.

  • Reference Works
  • Organizations
  • Technology-Mediated Communication
  • Theoretical Approaches
  • Social Work Practice Implications

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  • Computational Social Welfare: Applying Data Science in Social Work
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  • Internet and Video Game Addiction
  • Technology Adoption in Social Work Education
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Technology, Human Relationships, and Human Interaction by Angela N. Bullock , Alex D. Colvin LAST MODIFIED: 27 April 2017 DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0249

The utilization of technology to create and maintain relationships among people has become commonplace. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of American adults who own a tablet computer increased from 3 percent in 2010 to 45 percent in 2015, and the percentage of American adults who own a cell phone increased from 53 percent in 2000 to 92 percent in 2015. Furthermore, in 2015, 76 percent of online adults used some type of social networking site, compared to 8 percent in 2005. Technology is often introduced into a social system with the stated intention of making life easier for people. As technology becomes more pervasive in everyday life, the assessment of technology’s presence in relationships and its impact on how humans interact with one another is an emerging area of study. There are many perspectives on the relationship between technology and human interactions and relationships. It is purported that the integration of technologies in everyday life can have profound effects on human relationships, in both positive and negative ways. More notably, technologies impact on or interfere with how individuals engage in interpersonal relationships, behave within relationships, and project feelings and meanings including displays of emotions and love. Essentially, the new technological landscape now connects to what it means to be human.

This section presents a sample of early works that guided research into the fostering of relationships and interpersonal interactions through technology. Kiesler, et al. 1984 looks beyond the efficiency and technical capabilities of computer communication technologies and provides insight into the psychological, social, and cultural significance of technology. Jones 1994 provides a comprehensive examination of the varying aspects of social relationships in cyberspace. Preliminary studies that provide best-practice recommendations for the adoption of technology-based intervention in social work practice include Pardeck and Schulte 1990 ; Cwikel and Cnaan 1991 ; Schopler, et al. 1998 ; and Gonchar and Adams 2000 . Lea and Spears 1995 ; Kraut, et al. 1998 ; and Nie and Erbring 2000 offer early insight into how the Internet began to shape the way humans interact.

Cwikel, Julie, and Ram Cnaan. 1991. Ethical dilemmas in applying second-wave information technology to social work practice. Social Work 36.2: 114–120.

These authors consider ethical dilemmas brought about by the use of information technology in social work practice. They examine the effects on the client–worker relationship of the use of client databases, expert systems, therapeutic programs, and telecommunications.

Gonchar, Nancy, and Joan R. Adams. 2000. Living in cyberspace: Recognizing the importance of the virtual world in social work assessments. Journal of Social Work Education 36:587–600.

Utilizing the person-in-environment approach, this source explores the opportunities online communication provides individuals in fostering relationships, either healthy or unhealthy.

Jones, Steve, ed. 1994. CyberSociety: Computer-mediated communication and community . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Explores the construction, maintenance, and mediation of emerging cybersocieties. Aspects of social relationships generated by computer-mediated communication are discussed.

Kiesler, Sara, Jane Siegel, and Timothy W. McGuire. 1984. Social psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication. American Psychologist 39.10: 1123–1134.

DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.39.10.1123

The authors present potential behavior and social effects of computer-mediated communication.

Kraut, Robert, Michael Patterson, Vickie Lundmark, Sara Kiesler, Tridas Mukopadhyay, and William Scherlis. 1998. Internet paradox: A social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being? American Psychologist 53.9: 1017–1031.

DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.53.9.1017

This study examines the positive and negative impacts of the Internet on social relationships, participation in community life, and psychological well-being. The implications for research, policy, and technology development are discussed.

Lea, Martin, and Russell Spears. 1995. Love at first byte? Building personal relationships over computer networks. In Understudied relationships: Off the beaten track . Edited by J. T. Wood and S. Duck, 197–233. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

This chapter focuses on the connection between personal relationships and computer networks. Previous studies that examine dynamics of online relationships are reviewed.

Nie, Norman H., and Lutz Erbring. 2000. Internet and society: A preliminary report . Stanford, CA: Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society.

This study presents the results of an early study that explores the sociological impact of information technology and the role of the Internet in shaping interpersonal relationships and interactions.

Pardeck, John T., and Ruth S. Schulte. 1990. Computers in social intervention: Implications for professional social work practice and education. Family Therapy 17.2: 109.

The authors discuss the impact of computer technology on aspects of social work intervention including inventory testing, client history, clinical assessment, computer-assisted therapy, and computerized therapy.

Schopler, Janice H., Melissa D. Abell, and Maeda J. Galinsky. 1998. Technology-based groups: A review and conceptual framework for practice. Social Work 43.3: 254–267.

DOI: 10.1093/sw/43.3.254

The authors examine studies of social work practice using telephone and computer groups. Social work practice guidelines for technology-based groups are discussed.

Turkle, Sherry. 1984. The second self: Computers and the human spirit . New York: Simon & Schuster.

Explores the use of computers not as tools but as part of our social and psychological lives and how computers affect our awareness of ourselves, of one another, and of our relationship with the world.

Weizenbaum, Joseph. 1976. Computer power and human reason: From judgment to calculation . San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.

Examines the sources of the computer’s power including the notions of the brilliance of computers and offers evaluative explorations of computer power and human reason. The book presents common theoretical issues and applications of computer power such as computer models of psychology, natural language, and artificial intelligence.

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The Pros And Cons Of Technology And Relationships

Technology plays a very prevalent role in modern society. Technology's dominance in our everyday lives touches not only work, business, and travel but also relationships. In today's age, people can meet one another online and carry on entire conversations before ever coming face to face with one another. However, technology may interfere with those conversations, as well.

The existence of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, has paved the way for various connections and relationships. Dating websites such as Tinder are also regularly used by people interested in finding love in non-traditional manners. How modern-day relationships are approached has been largely influenced by the existence of information technology. Ahead, we’ll discuss the different ways in which technology can impact relationships, for better or worse.

A quick word on modern technology

While technology's crossover with relationships does come with some inherent pros and cons, it's important to remember that technology in and of itself is not evil. Ultimately, technology is a tool that can be employed for both various means. Modern technology has added some benefits to society, but it's also come with some drawbacks. How communication technology is employed for relationship purposes will ultimately determine whether or not the technology itself yields positive or negative results. But what cannot be refuted is that it has a significant impact on relationships.

In recent years, various individuals have raised questions about whether technology disconnects human beings from one another or actually strengthens relationships. Of course, there are applications like FaceTime, Skype, etc., but there are also concerns about whether individuals are losing the ability to connect without devices. On the other hand, many relationships have come into inception due to technology and various dating and social networking platforms.

The impact of technology in relationships will ultimately depend upon who is using technology and their specific endgames.

The pros of technology and relationships

There are (at least) two sides to every story. For quite some time now, the adverse impacts of technology in modern-day relationships have gained attention; positive impacts and upsides are less commonly discussed, giving a skewed perception of technology and its potential for improving society. Understanding the pros of technology and relationships can prove advantageous as people make decisions about their lives and strengthen their relationships.

Enabling stronger relationships

Technology often gets a bad rap for reducing the quality of human interactions and relationships. However, in many instances, technology brings people closer together and strengthens relationships . This is seen when two people meet one another online and then later go out in person for coffee, dinner, or drinks. 

In many cases, certain internet platforms allow people to meet with individuals they would never encounter if not for technology. People need to understand that the impact of technology comes with the power to strengthen and foster relationships amongst willing individuals.

Forging  professional connections

In recent years, freelance work and the gig economy have gained traction and attention from the mainstream media due to the impact of technology. Freelance work and individuals who can build entire careers from working online are direct offshoots of technology. Individuals who need certain services can post ads on job boards or freelance platforms, such as Upwork, Fiverr, etc. 

Online jobs related to technology are also on the rise on these freelancing websites. If ongoing work is necessary, both parties are allowed to remain in contact with one another. In freelancing, professional relationships are imperative to success, a dynamic that has only come about due to technology.

Overcoming distance-related barriers

In previous times, when people wanted to maintain relationships despite the distance, their options were limited. Writing letters was one of the very few options; now, being thousands of miles apart does not have to stop individuals who truly want to be in contact with one another. Facebook, Instagram, Skype, FaceTime, and so many other platforms provide opportunities for people to remain connected in real-time, improving technology on relationships.

Preparing for the future

Technology's influence on our everyday lives is not going away; in fact, it's increasing as various forms of artificial intelligence are developed and integrated into society, causing a greater effect of technology on relationships. 

The  cons of technology and relationships

The pros of technology and relationships are undeniable; however, there are still certain drawbacks that people should be cognizant of how technology can harm your life. The drawbacks of technology in relationships don't necessarily mean that individuals should abstain from using technology altogether; nevertheless, information about downsides can help people learn what they should and shouldn't do. Knowing the mistakes others have made can truly ensure that everyone doesn't have to learn certain lessons the hard way.

Internet addiction

Too much of a good thing is almost always problematic, and technology is no exception to this rule. For as much as technology can improve lives, too much intake also has the power to ruin lives. Forming relationships solely related to technology can provide a false sense of intimacy since it becomes very easy for people to lie about who they are. To this day, many individuals are living with addictions to technology in one form or another, whether it's video games, YouTube, or other social networking sites.

Spending a fair amount of time on these platforms is one thing, but when technology begins to interfere with individuals' abilities to engage with others in the real world, this is when issues arise. For as much good as technology can do, it should never become so powerful in someone's life that they are psychologically dependent upon it.

Avoidance of real-life interactions

Another drawback of technology comes when people employ it as a means to avoid having real-life conversations. Technology can interfere with having face-to-face conversations, allowing people to remain distant, ignoring or blocking people altogether when uncomfortable topics come up. 

This occurs more commonly than most individuals can imagine; sometimes, it's easier to type a passive-aggressive message than sit down with someone and have a face-to-face conversation, even if it's not the easiest conversation. Steering clear of uncomfortable interactions in real life may seem harmless, but in most cases, it can be problematic later down the line.

There is a certain emotional detachment that comes along with using technology to avoid certain aspects of face-to-face relationships. This emotional detachment can lead to rudeness or outright dismissal. When someone doesn't have to sit down with someone and see their facial expressions, nonverbal clues, etc., it's easier to make statements that they wouldn't make in person.

Lack  of focus

Technology is an ideal tool for individuals who enjoy multitasking, which could be considered one of the ways technology has helped us be more productive. In certain circumstances, this can be beneficial, but there are times were dividing your attention across multiple matters can lead to cracks and missed details. People can easily open up their laptops and have multiple tabs open, including work emails, Facebook, and funny videos on YouTube. 

By splitting one's attention across multiple areas, certain relevant details can go missing, thus leading to unintended consequences later down the line. This is not guaranteed in all cases, but it's certainly possible that individuals should be aware of as they use technology.

Distraction from real life

Complaints about people using their phones or tablets at inopportune times, such as dinner, meetings, etc., are almost universal pet peeves. Sometimes, individuals can become so preoccupied with checking the news or reading their Google alerts that they neglect the relationships and people outside their scenes. This is inherently problematic and can certainly lead to fractured relationships if the behavior is habitual.

How to make the most of technology

Knowing the pros and cons of technology is certainly relevant in current times. However, it often goes unmissed that everyone is responsible for their own experiences and outcomes. The positive impacts that one person has from technology will not apply to someone who misuses technology or uses it in a manner that isn't conducive to their well-being. 

Likewise, an individual who uses technology to further themselves professionally will have a different outcome from a person who has an addiction to social media. It’s all dependent on the ways technology is used.

Ultimately, you are responsible for determining your outcome. Being aware of the many ways in which technology can help or harm your relationships may prove to be valuable as you move throughout the world. Like all tools, technology can reap great benefits or tragic consequences. It is important to know how technology interferes with your daily interactions with other people and nip it in the bud before it gets worse.

When seeking professional help can be of value

If your relationships are struggling or you are looking for support in some other area of your life, you may find that signing up for  online therapy with Regain can truly be of service. Ironically, online therapy with Regain is one of the major pros associated with technology and relationships. 

Through online therapy platforms like Regain, you can meet with a licensed therapist at convenient times and from preferred locations, providing you have a secure internet connection. In this way, using online therapy taps into several of the advantages that technology offers. Namely, there’s no need to travel to a far-away in-person therapist’s office to attain support. Being able to meet from your desired location means that you may be more able to maximize your efficiency.

Several studies have confirmed online therapy’s effectiveness in treating a host of mental health conditions, including addiction to the internet, social media, or gaming. In one recent study , practitioners set out to evaluate the effectiveness of an online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention for internet addiction. 128 participants completed the twelve weekly sessions, and results showed that over 95% were able to manage their symptoms. Additionally, 78% sustained recovery six months post-treatment, indicating that online therapy can be a highly effective intervention for internet addiction.

If you’re interested to hear from people who have had positive experiences with online therapy, consider reading reviews of Regain counselors below.

"My experience with Priscilla has been immensely helpful in better understanding myself and providing me with the tools to see my life and relationships with more clarity and compassion."

“Austa has been wonderful thus far. She has helped my partner and I during an unimaginably difficult time... She has also guided us in communicating effectively and setting appropriate boundaries in our relationship. I was hesitant to pursue counseling at the beginning, but I truly believe that it is making a difference for our relationship. Austa is easy to talk to and she is a great listener. I would wholeheartedly recommend her as a counselor.”

Working with an online therapist does not mean that you will never face hardships or tough times. However, it does mean that you will have a professional in your corner. No matter who you are or what you may be going through – from trying to reconnect with your partner when you both have busy schedules to overcoming body dysmorphia issues related to social media filtering -- your online therapist will have your best interests at heart. So many individuals have benefited from seeking online therapy and gaining the tools to improve the quality of their lives. When you’re ready, you can reach out to a licensed therapist at Regain and start working toward your goals.

Frequently  asked questions 

How are relationships affected by technology?

Although technology has made it a little easier to stay in contact with your friends and loved ones who are far away, it can have a negative impact on relationships that you may have never thought possible. 

One of the ways technology can affect your relationship is to reduce the intimacy between you and your partner. For one thing, it can be a source of tension if one partner is using their tech devices more often than they should, leaving their partner's feelings ignored. Another negative effect is that technology makes it easier for people to sext (sending sexual messages through text) random people without their partner knowing.

Technology can have a negative impact on the relationship by being a big distraction for either party. Instead of having important conversations, one or both partners are more focused on their phones and checking social media.

Lastly, heavy use of technology can lead to negative mental health outcomes. This is because those who tend to look at a lot of social media tend to have reduced levels of life satisfaction, making them less happy with their partners. Technology interferes with the possibility of partners discussing these issues together to create healthier relationships.

Does technology destroy human interaction?

Technology can impact relationships by negatively impacting social skills, especially in children and young adults. It’s very easy for there to be miscommunication through text messages. Without face-to-face interactions, it can be not easy to read body language and tone to decipher what someone is saying.

The impact of technology on relationships is also visible outside of the screen. With people staring at their phones rather than at each other, conversations in real life are perhaps not taking place when they should be. 

There is a small positive impact of technology on relationships, despite all of this. Some of these interactions have led to people meeting up in person, thereby strengthening their friendship pool.

What are the negative effects of technology?

The overuse of technology can not only hurt relationships but also affect your health. Prolonged use can lead to eyestrain, dry eyes, and blurred vision, as well as neck and shoulder pain from staying in one position for so long. Repetitive strain is also placed on wrists and fingers from holding the phone and texting.

There is an impact of technology on the brain as well: this is because tech devices emit blue light , which suppresses melatonin production in the brain, the chemical responsible for helping us get to sleep at night. Exposure to constant blue light can interrupt your circadian rhythm, leading to less restful sleep.

Technology can also interfere with your ideas of self-worth and self-confidence, as well. Being exposed to social media makes it easy for people to compare themselves to others, making them feel as if their lives are less impressive in comparison.

What are the positive effects of technology?

One of the positive aspects of technology in relationships is that it can help partners remain close, even when they’re not in the same room or even the same building, such as when one partner is at work in a different area of the world. 

For example, instead of having to make a phone call, you can send a loving text message or even an entire conversation during your partner’s lunch break. Being able to have contact with your partner whenever you can has a positive impact on your relationship.

Is technology good for relationships?

Although the trend in news stories has been that technology is making people more impersonal, technology can positively impact intimate relationships. The ways technology can help couples is by providing them with the means to communicate better and manage conflict more healthily. 

Through technology, the brain is forced to slow down to put thoughts into a text format, rather than reacting to one’s initial emotions and causing more pain. Slower response times during a conflict can allow both partners to cool off to think more rationally about the situation and how it can be improved upon.

Technology also makes it easier to keep track of certain events going on in a partner’s life. Do they have a big presentation coming up? Setting a reminder can help you remember to provide them with extra support to feel better prepared.

However, technology should not be used to communicate; intimate relationships require face time, so it’s important to save some important topics for in-person conversations.

How can technology be a barrier to life and relationships? What are some questions about technology? What is the biggest problem we face with technology today? Can we live without technology?

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Relation Between Humans and Technology, Essay Example

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Technological determinism is a theory that the development of both social structures and cultural values driven by the society’s technology. The term is believed to have been invented by an American Sociologist, Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929). Technological momentum is also a theory that states the relationship between the society and technology over a period. It was coined by Thomas P. Hughes a Historian of technology. Hughes believes in having two distinct models to see how technology and society interact, he claims that the new, upcoming technologies are the one that affects the society. These technologies are brought up in ways that they are lasting and irremediable, and the society has to change to be able to survive.

Technology and the human community have drastically grown together given the fact that, technology puts the human community on its toes each and every second. Time is the unifying factor between the social and technological determinism. Social claims that the societies have the power to control how technology will develop and uses are true. When technology is still young, the society has control over it and can easily mould it to fit its suitability. Although, when it has matured, the society will be the one to adjust to accommodate to the new technology. The current technology has increasingly improved the education sector. According to Thomas Edison State College “technology has improved the ability to do research and elevates our knowledge on contemporary problems and extends our ability to address those issues with scope and depth”. Education research has become easier, and fun to do with the new technology, which makes it faster to acquire required materials for use. However, technology cannot work independently it requires knowledge on cultural values to be able to compliment it (Murphie & Potts 19).

In relation to cultural values and history, technology had to be there even in the ancient time where hunting tools, sculptures and jewelry were being shaped and decorated either by curving or painting.

Currently in leadership, technology has demonstrated a great deal of importance in numerous occasions, like in the case of Second World War. Nazi Germany with the use of technology like new rockets and jet planes achieved technological innovations, although he did not change the fate of the war. It would have been different if the innovation had come earlier and would have determined the momentum (Feenberg 2003). Technology has also improved the communication standards, accountability and accessibility. Leaders can be easily reached through the availability of Internet, telephones and fax machines. Therefore, it is imperative for leaders to gain knowledge and understanding of vast technological advancements and how they help in managerial and decision making processes.

Technology and human interaction are things that need to be advocated in institutions and professions because they have changed thinking patterns and mode of presentation. This accommodates the needs and preferences of individuals in the society, which includes the disabled and physically challenged. Technology influence on humanity has affected all sectors in marketing (private, public, off line and or on-line). This intersection has disrupted old models of business, industrial theories and systems of belief underpinning ancient knowledge and concepts (Croteau & Hoynes 305). This has promoted movement comprehension curves and results in the creation of meaning and significance from changes emerging in technology and human interaction.

Technology, on the other hand, can also affect negatively in other cases, for example, in a war, where destructive technology is used by the major technological powers of Soviet Union and United States in the cold war. They could not achieve clear victories because it would destroy everything and nothing would be left to win. In other cases, executive members of a given firm use this media (Croteau & Hoynes 306) in confronting sub-ordinate staff members and harass female counterparts’ sub-ordinate staff members and harass female counterparts sexually. This has affected working conditions negatively and hence, production is hampered.

Civilization and technology work hand in hand. Therefore, in order to achieve some of the civilization, technology has to be in place first. Some historians believe that the higher the technology the influential the civilization will be to the neighboring cultures (Murphie & Potts 21). Technology has made life easier like in the availability of ATM’s, which has made society able to access the banking services faster and conveniently. The changes currently seen in the society is due to the arising technology. For example, in the ancient history, communication used to be in the form of signs (smoke, sounds among others). Unlike today, where people communicate through email thus, negatively affecting the social life of the human community since people rarely meet.

In conclusion, technology has brought both positive and negative effects in the human community. Although it has some negative factors, we cannot do without it because it has become a requirement. In the current world, one cannot live without a mobile phone. Although, having it also have some negative factors like wave radiation, which can affect the human health after using it for long. This has also brought forth the use of other technology to reduce radiation of the wave to the human body to allow him use the mobile phone more. This shows that technology and humanity co-exist with each other.

Works Cited

Croteau, D & Hoynes, W. Media Society: Industries, Images and Audiences. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press, 2003. Print

Davies, F. Technology and Business Ethics Theory. Business Ethics: A European Review vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 76-80, 2002. Print

Feenberg, A. (2003). What Is Philosophy of Technology ? Retrieved 26 April, 2012 from < >

Murphie, A and Potts, J. Culture and Technology . London: Palgrave, 2003. Print

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Health & Wellness

New Study Shows Impact of Technology on Relationships

By Julene Reese | November 18, 2019

couple in bed on their mobile phones.

It’s no surprise that technology can have a negative impact on relationships. But David Schramm, Utah State University assistant professor and Extension family life specialist, is particularly interested in how technology interferes with two of the most important spaces for interaction and connection – in the bed and at the table.

Schramm, also known as USU relationship specialist “Dr. Dave,” said it is inevitable that technology will creep into nearly every aspect of our lives. Because of this, he is on a mission to safeguard these two important areas that must be consciously protected to help strengthen couple and parent-child relationships. He believes these places should be considered off limits when it comes to technology use.

Schramm decided the best way to understand “technoference,” the way technology use interferes with face-to-face interactions with others, was simply to ask people. He conducted a survey of 631 parents across the United States between the ages of 21 and 60 and asked several questions related to technology use. As part of the survey, he created the initiatives K-TOOB (Kick Technology Out of Beds) and K-TOOT (Kick Technology Off of Tables). The initiatives are meant to strengthen relationships between couples and between parents and children.

“Seventy-five percent of those surveyed said that K-TOOB is a good idea, and 88 percent believe that K-TOOT is a good idea,” he said. 

Here are more of his survey findings:

  • Eighty-eight percent agree that technoference is a big problem in our society, with 62 percent of those surveyed agreeing that it is a big problem in their family. Seventy percent reported that technology interrupts family time at least occasionally. 
  • Forty-five percent consider technology a big problem in their marriage. 
  • More than one-third of the adults use technology in their bed every night or almost every night. Even more, 43 percent, report that their spouse/partner uses technology in bed every night or almost every night. That may be why nearly 25 percent feel like their partner’s use of technology in bed interferes with their sexual relationship.
  • Fifty-five percent feel like their spouse/partner spends too much time on their cell phone, and 48 percent wish their significant other would spend less time on their cell phone and more time with their children.
  • Fifty-three percent believe they personally are on their cell phone too much, while 59 percent believe their spouse or partner is on it too much.
  • Six out of 10 adults are concerned about the influence technology has on their relationship with their children, and nearly one out of four wish they had more information about technology and parenting, but don’t know where to turn.
  • Thirty-eight percent of adults admit to using technology at least occasionally while eating at home with family members. This only drops slightly to 35 percent who report using technology while eating at a restaurant with their spouse or partner at least occasionally.

“The overall survey results show that higher levels of technology use and technoference adds up to significantly less time spent together as a couple, less satisfaction and connection, and higher levels of depression and anxiety,” he said. 

When asked if he has advice for the upcoming holidays, Schramm said, “Talk more, use your phone less, and be where you are.”  

Julene Reese Public Relations Specialist Extension 435-757-6418 [email protected]

David Schramm Family Life Specialist Extension 435-797-8183 [email protected]


  • - USU Extension

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Technology and Relationships: Positive and Negative Effects Research Paper

Introduction, literature review, identification of the knowledge gap, main research questions, methodology, importance and contribution of the study, reference list.

The embracement of technology has become an inevitable concept in modern organizations that yearn for improved communication, delivery of services, and productivity. Companies that have effectively implemented technology in the promotion of communication processes find it easier to solve problems that are related to transactions and conflicts. This state of play has resulted in the reduction of time wastages and operation costs in an attempt to realize improved results. Other factors that have been regarded as the benefits of embracing robust communication include employee motivation, contentment, and improved performance. Most people, especially the Y generation, have been significantly influenced by the improved technology due to the ever-increasing usage of internet applications such as email, Facebook, and Twitter among others. The research proposal provides an analysis of two topics namely ‘the positive effects of using technology to communicate in an organization’ and ‘the negative impacts of using technology for individual and family communication’.

Technology and Communication in the Current World

According to Gardner, McNair, and Tietjen (2004), communication in the current business market has greatly reduced physical barriers that have been hindering various transactional processes. There is an improved usage of e-mails, teleconferencing, video conferencing, Facebook, and Twitter among other means (Gardner, McNair & Tietjen, 2004). This state of play has boosted virtual management in many organizations that transact in the global markets. Employee management has become easier owing to virtual communication that has reduced the necessity of physical interactions. The use of digital technology-enabled gadgets such as phones, tablets, and PCs has ensured that managers receive e-mails prompt information since they have inbuilt real-time alert systems that inform the receiver when an e-mail is received in the computers back in the office (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004). As a result, they easily access such information and respond appropriately. Improved technology is viewed as a means to transform offices from physical to portable (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004).

Improved Decision-Making due to Communication in Technology

Gardner, McNair, and Tietjen (2004) attested that the Internet has ensured a quicker retrieval of information. The old-fashioned way of gathering the information required several days or even weeks. Contrastingly, today’s managers can effectively perform research online to compile large chunks of information in a comparatively shorter duration. This state of affairs ensures quick decision-making processes that are essential in the modern business environment where the scramble for market gaps and shares is inescapable (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004). Communication is a tool that is used in the organization’s management in various aspects such as building effective teamwork, resolution of conflicts, and facilitation of interdepartmental meetings among other functions. Through communication, people share and interact with a view of understanding each other’s values, attitudes, beliefs, and weaknesses among other aspects (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004).

Globalization and improvement in technology have made communication a core element in the management of relationships with organizations. The development of communication systems is rapidly growing based on the nature of work arrangements, culture, and structure of modern organizations among other factors. Improvement in technology has further ensured the implementation of robust methods of passing information across teamwork and departmental units (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004). As a result, communication is seen as the central element that controls the operations of the organization. Improvement in communication technology has been deemed to have positive effects such as employee motivation, reduction of costs, and trust-building among others (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004).

Effective Human Resource Management due to Improved Communication

Advancement in technology equipment such as fax machines, computers, video conferencing, and teleconferencing electronics among others has significantly promoted human resource management. There is a noteworthy improvement in productivity since most organizations are currently dealing with virtual teamwork that is dedicated to its duties in diverse geographical locations (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004). Managers at the global level do not necessarily avail themselves of their physical capacities in various organizations due to the efficiency of well-managed virtual teamwork. Other benefits include reduced costs in outsourcing experts and traveling. Gardner, McNair, and Tietjen (2004) also noted that efficient communication management resulted in the recruitment of personnel on the digital platforms and increased job retention due to the selection of individuals with relevant qualifications. This set of circumstances led to reduced job stress and travel time. Most importantly, it has been associated with increased job satisfaction (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004).

Improved Marketing owing to State-of-the-Art Communication Technology

Communication is an aspect that improves the marketing functions of the organization. Currently, the use of virtual marketing has seen many organizations operate on a global scale. The use of the Internet ensures that products are marketed, distributed, and delivered to consumers promptly; hence, the practice saves the consumer’s time and money. The selling of the products has also been enhanced through the internet due to improved technology in communication due to the reduction of inventories in the organizations (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004).

Improved Competitive Advantage

Decision-making has been greatly improved through technological advancement in communication. Most companies currently adopt robust communication channels to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals. It also helps them forecast future operations, threats, and opportunities that determine the achievement of the operational goals. There is a competitive advantage due to the unparalleled availability of managers online who deal with problems that arise in a real-time manner. The Internet, especially the development of websites, also ensures that the companies embrace advanced customer service contacts to ensure effective cost reductions during their operations (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004).

Communication impacts on Relationships due to Advanced Technology

The revolution in communication has led to increased and value-added text messaging, social networking, and video chatting among other techniques that are used to create more business relationships. Such activities have led to different perceptions of communication in the current age. One of the issues that have raised concern is the relationships that exist among families and individuals (Hertlein, 2012). Many families currently own computers, tablets, and phones for communication. However, various negative impacts that are associated with improved technology in communication have been noted. For instance, improved communication has led to the isolation of some family members. This situation has been caused by the absence of face-to-face contacts amongst the individuals in a family (Hertlein, 2012). The tremendous increase in the usage of smartphones that offer networking services social such as Facebook, Skype, and Twitter among others have led to increased time wastage as family members engage in non-physical communication using the virtual tools. As a result, the essence of getting involved in one-on-one communication has been replaced by practices such as online chatting and video calling. Other disadvantages of improvement in communication technology include mistrust among family members and procrastination of duties among others (Hertlein, 2012).

Although many studies have elaborated on social networking and lack of physical connections as the main disadvantages of technological advancement in communication, the proposed research will provide an insight into other disadvantages that are not highlighted in the aforementioned literature. Furthermore, most of the studies identified have not highlighted the benefits that technology brings to the Generation Y in terms of the development of future operations of the organizations.

Problem Statement

There exists a plethora of information concerning technology and communication in both organizations and family circles. Improvement in the exchange of information during communication ensures that technological advancement is embraced in the organization. Improved communication is a strong foundation for a company’s improvement in production, connectivity, and quality of service delivery. Effective teamwork management is enhanced through robust communication practices that foster interaction and unity (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004). In most organizations, improved communications technology is perceived as the basis of ensuring cost reduction, time-saving, and improved efficiency. However, how can improvement in communication technology be of greater advantage to the success of the organization?

Although most researchers have strongly defended the benefits of improved information technology and communication, various interaction complexities arise in the management of families and individuals because physical contacts are greatly cut. Regardless of improved connectivity of family members being seen as an improvement in the modern society, a lot of disconnect is currently exhibited due to improved technology, when in matters that pertain to physical engagements (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004). The disconnect in the combined performance of duties as a family staying within the same locality is one of the disadvantages that have been brought about by the development and proliferation of state-of-the-art information and communication technology (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004). Most of the studies only elaborate on the advantages of technology in communication at the family levels (Gardner, McNair, & Tietjen, 2004). The proposed study will seek to confirm the negative impacts of technology usage on both individuals and families.

Research Aim and Objectives

The proposed study will aim at two issues. At the outset, the research will be aimed at identifying the positive effects of adopting advanced communication methods at the organizational level. Secondly, it will seek to confirm the negative impacts of using technology on individuals and their relationships with their families. The following objectives have been chosen for conducting the study.

  • To confirm the negative impacts of using technology on the relationships between individuals and their families.
  • To identify various positive impacts of using advanced communication technology in the organization.
  • To identify various technologies that have been applied in communication among individuals and families.

Research Purpose

The primary purpose of the study is to identify various positive impacts of using improved communication technology in the organization. It will also confirm the negative impacts of using technology on the relationships between individuals and their families.

The study will be based on the following hypotheses.

H 01 : Implementation of technology in communication does not lead to positive impacts on the organization, individuals, and families.

H 02 : Implementation of technology in communication leads to positive impacts on the organization, individuals, and families.

What positive impacts does technology usage on communication bring to an organization?

What negative effects does technology usage on communication bring to individuals and families?

Limitations of the Study

The study will only focus on the evaluation of the positive effects of communication technology used on an organization and families. The proposed research will also be limited to a qualitative research design and analysis. The results will not focus on the implementation of plans but the awareness creation to the organization’s management concerning the positive impacts of such practices on their operations. It will further warn individuals of the communication technology disadvantages that have adverse effects on their relationships with the family members. As a result, the findings will only generalize the available information for public awareness and academic purposes.

Various parameters that will be measured include dependent variables such as the positive impacts of using advanced communication systems on the operations of a company. It will also measure the adverse effects of using communications technology on the relationships between individuals and their families. The independent variable will encompass the effects of technology usage in both organizations and individuals.

Research Design and Sampling plan

Since the proposed study will focus on two topics namely ‘the positive effects of using technology to communicate within the organization’ and ‘the negative impacts of using technology in the individual communication within their families’, the research will adopt a qualitative research design (De Choudhury et al., 2010). The research will be conducted in organizations that embrace the current technology in communication. It will seek to examine the employees who fall under generation Y or those who are conversant with the digital technology platform (De Choudhury et al., 2010).

Sampling Strategy and Research Instrument

The sample size selected will comprise 500 respondents. 400 individuals will be employees from different backgrounds and organizations. The remaining 100 respondents will consist of the top, middle, and front management staff. The respondents will be selected using the quasi-sampling method. Online questionnaires will be randomly administered to them. The research instruments will then be submitted online as agreed with the respondents (De Choudhury et al., 2010).

Sources of Data

Online questionnaires will be used in the collection of data. The questionnaire will be structured to show personal information about the respondent. It will contain closed, open-ended and multiple-choice questions. The instrument will be written in simple English for easier understanding by the respondents (De Choudhury et al., 2010). Data will also be obtained through observation of the technology that is adopted by the selected organizations.

Rationale for the Selection

Organizations that embrace current digital technology in communication were selected as the study sites since they regarded a robust relay of information as crucial to the improvement of productivity and market competition. The generation Y employees were chosen because they were deemed custodians of the digital technology in communication. They will be expected to provide a lot of information on the negative effects they experience due to the implementation of advanced communication systems. The sampling design chosen is also appropriate for the study since it will focus on the qualitative approach.

Data Analysis for Demographic Variables

The demographic variables that will be considered include age, marital status, education, and experience in the usage of technology. The variables will be analyzed using univariate analysis (or tables). The process will be accomplished using the SPSS version 21. The univariate analysis will indicate details about the age distribution frequencies, measures of central tendencies, and dispersion (De Choudhury et al., 2010).

Data Analysis for Study Variables

Inferential statistics will be used to elaborate on what will be inferred to the general condition of the study. Some of the checks that will be conducted include the t-test, Chi-Square, and one-way ANOVA among other multivariate methods (De Choudhury et al., 2010).

Validity and Reliability

The Pearson Moment Correlation will be used for testing the validity of the existing questionnaire. A 0.5 R-value will be set to test the validity. If the point is above the mark, the instrument will be deemed valid (De Choudhury et al., 2010). The reliability of the questionnaire will be measured using Cronbach’s Alpha at 0.5. In summary, both the validity and reliability of the instrument will be ensured to be positive to meet the requirements of the research (De Choudhury et al., 2010).

Research Ethics

This research will progress after seeking permission from the relevant authorities from the school and organizations where it will be conducted. The respondents will be issued with online consent forms to show their willingness to participate in the study. Upon acceptance, they will be included in the research (Miller, Birch, Mauthner, & Jessop, 2012).

The importance of the research is to investigate the effects of using advanced communication techniques to organizational and family level activities. The knowledge that will be gathered from the research will inform the development of communication methods that are more robust with a view of solving the issues that arise from the adoption of advanced communications technology. This state of play will immensely contribute to the reconstruction of relationships at both the organizational and family levels.

De Choudhury, M., Lin, Y., Sundaram, H., Candan, K., Xie, L., & Kelliher, A. (2010). How does the data sampling strategy impact the discovery of information diffusion in social media? ICWSM , 10 (1), 34-41.

Gardner, C., McNair, J., & Tietjen, P. (2004). Communication in a Virtual Organisation (Managerial Communication Series, 3). Business Communication Quarterly , 67 (2), 245-247.

Hertlein, K. (2012). Digital dwelling: Technology in couple and family relationships. Family Relations , 61 (3), 374-387.

Miller, T., Birch, M., Mauthner, M., & Jessop, J. (2012). Ethics in qualitative research , London: Sage.

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IvyPanda. (2024, January 17). Technology and Relationships: Positive and Negative Effects.

"Technology and Relationships: Positive and Negative Effects." IvyPanda , 17 Jan. 2024,

IvyPanda . (2024) 'Technology and Relationships: Positive and Negative Effects'. 17 January.

IvyPanda . 2024. "Technology and Relationships: Positive and Negative Effects." January 17, 2024.

1. IvyPanda . "Technology and Relationships: Positive and Negative Effects." January 17, 2024.


IvyPanda . "Technology and Relationships: Positive and Negative Effects." January 17, 2024.

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Promises and Pitfalls of Technology

Politics and privacy, private-sector influence and big tech, state competition and conflict, author biography, how is technology changing the world, and how should the world change technology.

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Josephine Wolff; How Is Technology Changing the World, and How Should the World Change Technology?. Global Perspectives 1 February 2021; 2 (1): 27353. doi:

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Technologies are becoming increasingly complicated and increasingly interconnected. Cars, airplanes, medical devices, financial transactions, and electricity systems all rely on more computer software than they ever have before, making them seem both harder to understand and, in some cases, harder to control. Government and corporate surveillance of individuals and information processing relies largely on digital technologies and artificial intelligence, and therefore involves less human-to-human contact than ever before and more opportunities for biases to be embedded and codified in our technological systems in ways we may not even be able to identify or recognize. Bioengineering advances are opening up new terrain for challenging philosophical, political, and economic questions regarding human-natural relations. Additionally, the management of these large and small devices and systems is increasingly done through the cloud, so that control over them is both very remote and removed from direct human or social control. The study of how to make technologies like artificial intelligence or the Internet of Things “explainable” has become its own area of research because it is so difficult to understand how they work or what is at fault when something goes wrong (Gunning and Aha 2019) .

This growing complexity makes it more difficult than ever—and more imperative than ever—for scholars to probe how technological advancements are altering life around the world in both positive and negative ways and what social, political, and legal tools are needed to help shape the development and design of technology in beneficial directions. This can seem like an impossible task in light of the rapid pace of technological change and the sense that its continued advancement is inevitable, but many countries around the world are only just beginning to take significant steps toward regulating computer technologies and are still in the process of radically rethinking the rules governing global data flows and exchange of technology across borders.

These are exciting times not just for technological development but also for technology policy—our technologies may be more advanced and complicated than ever but so, too, are our understandings of how they can best be leveraged, protected, and even constrained. The structures of technological systems as determined largely by government and institutional policies and those structures have tremendous implications for social organization and agency, ranging from open source, open systems that are highly distributed and decentralized, to those that are tightly controlled and closed, structured according to stricter and more hierarchical models. And just as our understanding of the governance of technology is developing in new and interesting ways, so, too, is our understanding of the social, cultural, environmental, and political dimensions of emerging technologies. We are realizing both the challenges and the importance of mapping out the full range of ways that technology is changing our society, what we want those changes to look like, and what tools we have to try to influence and guide those shifts.

Technology can be a source of tremendous optimism. It can help overcome some of the greatest challenges our society faces, including climate change, famine, and disease. For those who believe in the power of innovation and the promise of creative destruction to advance economic development and lead to better quality of life, technology is a vital economic driver (Schumpeter 1942) . But it can also be a tool of tremendous fear and oppression, embedding biases in automated decision-making processes and information-processing algorithms, exacerbating economic and social inequalities within and between countries to a staggering degree, or creating new weapons and avenues for attack unlike any we have had to face in the past. Scholars have even contended that the emergence of the term technology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries marked a shift from viewing individual pieces of machinery as a means to achieving political and social progress to the more dangerous, or hazardous, view that larger-scale, more complex technological systems were a semiautonomous form of progress in and of themselves (Marx 2010) . More recently, technologists have sharply criticized what they view as a wave of new Luddites, people intent on slowing the development of technology and turning back the clock on innovation as a means of mitigating the societal impacts of technological change (Marlowe 1970) .

At the heart of fights over new technologies and their resulting global changes are often two conflicting visions of technology: a fundamentally optimistic one that believes humans use it as a tool to achieve greater goals, and a fundamentally pessimistic one that holds that technological systems have reached a point beyond our control. Technology philosophers have argued that neither of these views is wholly accurate and that a purely optimistic or pessimistic view of technology is insufficient to capture the nuances and complexity of our relationship to technology (Oberdiek and Tiles 1995) . Understanding technology and how we can make better decisions about designing, deploying, and refining it requires capturing that nuance and complexity through in-depth analysis of the impacts of different technological advancements and the ways they have played out in all their complicated and controversial messiness across the world.

These impacts are often unpredictable as technologies are adopted in new contexts and come to be used in ways that sometimes diverge significantly from the use cases envisioned by their designers. The internet, designed to help transmit information between computer networks, became a crucial vehicle for commerce, introducing unexpected avenues for crime and financial fraud. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, designed to connect friends and families through sharing photographs and life updates, became focal points of election controversies and political influence. Cryptocurrencies, originally intended as a means of decentralized digital cash, have become a significant environmental hazard as more and more computing resources are devoted to mining these forms of virtual money. One of the crucial challenges in this area is therefore recognizing, documenting, and even anticipating some of these unexpected consequences and providing mechanisms to technologists for how to think through the impacts of their work, as well as possible other paths to different outcomes (Verbeek 2006) . And just as technological innovations can cause unexpected harm, they can also bring about extraordinary benefits—new vaccines and medicines to address global pandemics and save thousands of lives, new sources of energy that can drastically reduce emissions and help combat climate change, new modes of education that can reach people who would otherwise have no access to schooling. Regulating technology therefore requires a careful balance of mitigating risks without overly restricting potentially beneficial innovations.

Nations around the world have taken very different approaches to governing emerging technologies and have adopted a range of different technologies themselves in pursuit of more modern governance structures and processes (Braman 2009) . In Europe, the precautionary principle has guided much more anticipatory regulation aimed at addressing the risks presented by technologies even before they are fully realized. For instance, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation focuses on the responsibilities of data controllers and processors to provide individuals with access to their data and information about how that data is being used not just as a means of addressing existing security and privacy threats, such as data breaches, but also to protect against future developments and uses of that data for artificial intelligence and automated decision-making purposes. In Germany, Technische Überwachungsvereine, or TÜVs, perform regular tests and inspections of technological systems to assess and minimize risks over time, as the tech landscape evolves. In the United States, by contrast, there is much greater reliance on litigation and liability regimes to address safety and security failings after-the-fact. These different approaches reflect not just the different legal and regulatory mechanisms and philosophies of different nations but also the different ways those nations prioritize rapid development of the technology industry versus safety, security, and individual control. Typically, governance innovations move much more slowly than technological innovations, and regulations can lag years, or even decades, behind the technologies they aim to govern.

In addition to this varied set of national regulatory approaches, a variety of international and nongovernmental organizations also contribute to the process of developing standards, rules, and norms for new technologies, including the International Organization for Standardization­ and the International Telecommunication Union. These multilateral and NGO actors play an especially important role in trying to define appropriate boundaries for the use of new technologies by governments as instruments of control for the state.

At the same time that policymakers are under scrutiny both for their decisions about how to regulate technology as well as their decisions about how and when to adopt technologies like facial recognition themselves, technology firms and designers have also come under increasing criticism. Growing recognition that the design of technologies can have far-reaching social and political implications means that there is more pressure on technologists to take into consideration the consequences of their decisions early on in the design process (Vincenti 1993; Winner 1980) . The question of how technologists should incorporate these social dimensions into their design and development processes is an old one, and debate on these issues dates back to the 1970s, but it remains an urgent and often overlooked part of the puzzle because so many of the supposedly systematic mechanisms for assessing the impacts of new technologies in both the private and public sectors are primarily bureaucratic, symbolic processes rather than carrying any real weight or influence.

Technologists are often ill-equipped or unwilling to respond to the sorts of social problems that their creations have—often unwittingly—exacerbated, and instead point to governments and lawmakers to address those problems (Zuckerberg 2019) . But governments often have few incentives to engage in this area. This is because setting clear standards and rules for an ever-evolving technological landscape can be extremely challenging, because enforcement of those rules can be a significant undertaking requiring considerable expertise, and because the tech sector is a major source of jobs and revenue for many countries that may fear losing those benefits if they constrain companies too much. This indicates not just a need for clearer incentives and better policies for both private- and public-sector entities but also a need for new mechanisms whereby the technology development and design process can be influenced and assessed by people with a wider range of experiences and expertise. If we want technologies to be designed with an eye to their impacts, who is responsible for predicting, measuring, and mitigating those impacts throughout the design process? Involving policymakers in that process in a more meaningful way will also require training them to have the analytic and technical capacity to more fully engage with technologists and understand more fully the implications of their decisions.

At the same time that tech companies seem unwilling or unable to rein in their creations, many also fear they wield too much power, in some cases all but replacing governments and international organizations in their ability to make decisions that affect millions of people worldwide and control access to information, platforms, and audiences (Kilovaty 2020) . Regulators around the world have begun considering whether some of these companies have become so powerful that they violate the tenets of antitrust laws, but it can be difficult for governments to identify exactly what those violations are, especially in the context of an industry where the largest players often provide their customers with free services. And the platforms and services developed by tech companies are often wielded most powerfully and dangerously not directly by their private-sector creators and operators but instead by states themselves for widespread misinformation campaigns that serve political purposes (Nye 2018) .

Since the largest private entities in the tech sector operate in many countries, they are often better poised to implement global changes to the technological ecosystem than individual states or regulatory bodies, creating new challenges to existing governance structures and hierarchies. Just as it can be challenging to provide oversight for government use of technologies, so, too, oversight of the biggest tech companies, which have more resources, reach, and power than many nations, can prove to be a daunting task. The rise of network forms of organization and the growing gig economy have added to these challenges, making it even harder for regulators to fully address the breadth of these companies’ operations (Powell 1990) . The private-public partnerships that have emerged around energy, transportation, medical, and cyber technologies further complicate this picture, blurring the line between the public and private sectors and raising critical questions about the role of each in providing critical infrastructure, health care, and security. How can and should private tech companies operating in these different sectors be governed, and what types of influence do they exert over regulators? How feasible are different policy proposals aimed at technological innovation, and what potential unintended consequences might they have?

Conflict between countries has also spilled over significantly into the private sector in recent years, most notably in the case of tensions between the United States and China over which technologies developed in each country will be permitted by the other and which will be purchased by other customers, outside those two countries. Countries competing to develop the best technology is not a new phenomenon, but the current conflicts have major international ramifications and will influence the infrastructure that is installed and used around the world for years to come. Untangling the different factors that feed into these tussles as well as whom they benefit and whom they leave at a disadvantage is crucial for understanding how governments can most effectively foster technological innovation and invention domestically as well as the global consequences of those efforts. As much of the world is forced to choose between buying technology from the United States or from China, how should we understand the long-term impacts of those choices and the options available to people in countries without robust domestic tech industries? Does the global spread of technologies help fuel further innovation in countries with smaller tech markets, or does it reinforce the dominance of the states that are already most prominent in this sector? How can research universities maintain global collaborations and research communities in light of these national competitions, and what role does government research and development spending play in fostering innovation within its own borders and worldwide? How should intellectual property protections evolve to meet the demands of the technology industry, and how can those protections be enforced globally?

These conflicts between countries sometimes appear to challenge the feasibility of truly global technologies and networks that operate across all countries through standardized protocols and design features. Organizations like the International Organization for Standardization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and many others have tried to harmonize these policies and protocols across different countries for years, but have met with limited success when it comes to resolving the issues of greatest tension and disagreement among nations. For technology to operate in a global environment, there is a need for a much greater degree of coordination among countries and the development of common standards and norms, but governments continue to struggle to agree not just on those norms themselves but even the appropriate venue and processes for developing them. Without greater global cooperation, is it possible to maintain a global network like the internet or to promote the spread of new technologies around the world to address challenges of sustainability? What might help incentivize that cooperation moving forward, and what could new structures and process for governance of global technologies look like? Why has the tech industry’s self-regulation culture persisted? Do the same traditional drivers for public policy, such as politics of harmonization and path dependency in policy-making, still sufficiently explain policy outcomes in this space? As new technologies and their applications spread across the globe in uneven ways, how and when do they create forces of change from unexpected places?

These are some of the questions that we hope to address in the Technology and Global Change section through articles that tackle new dimensions of the global landscape of designing, developing, deploying, and assessing new technologies to address major challenges the world faces. Understanding these processes requires synthesizing knowledge from a range of different fields, including sociology, political science, economics, and history, as well as technical fields such as engineering, climate science, and computer science. A crucial part of understanding how technology has created global change and, in turn, how global changes have influenced the development of new technologies is understanding the technologies themselves in all their richness and complexity—how they work, the limits of what they can do, what they were designed to do, how they are actually used. Just as technologies themselves are becoming more complicated, so are their embeddings and relationships to the larger social, political, and legal contexts in which they exist. Scholars across all disciplines are encouraged to join us in untangling those complexities.

Josephine Wolff is an associate professor of cybersecurity policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Her book You’ll See This Message When It Is Too Late: The Legal and Economic Aftermath of Cybersecurity Breaches was published by MIT Press in 2018.

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Social Relations and Technology: Continuity, Context, and Change

Toni c antonucci.

1 Department of Psychology and Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

Kristine J Ajrouch

3 Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology, Eastern Michigan University

Jasmine A Manalel

2 Department of Psychology, University of Michigan

Social relations, although basic to human nature, health and well-being, have become increasingly complicated as a result of changing population demography and technology. In this essay, we provide a historical overview of social relations, especially as they affect older people. We briefly review the evolution of theory and measurement surrounding social relations as well as early empirical evidence. We consider how social relations have changed over time as well as continuity and change regarding basic characteristics of social relations. Of special interest is the emerging influence of technology on how people maintain contact, especially the changing ways people can use technology to increase, decrease, maintain, or avoid social relations. We consider both negative and positive aspects of these new technologies and their influence on health and well-being. Finally, we conclude that new and emerging technologies hold great promise for the future by overcoming traditional barriers to maintaining social contact, support exchange, and information acquisition. Nevertheless, we caution that these new technologies can have the dehumanizing effect of distance thus creating the potential for insensitivity and increased negativity. In sum, we are cautiously optimistic about the promise of technology to expand, but not replace, traditional forms of social contact.

Translational Significance

Incorporating technology into our study of social relations will be informative for our understanding of how communication modalities influence or are an expression of closeness and/or conflict. Further, technology has important potential for keeping social networks linked and for delivering potential interventions from telehealth to caregiving.

Social relations are a fundamental aspect of human life. This has been advocated early in the history of social science by luminaries such as Cooley (1902) , Durkheim (1915) , and Mead (1913) , and continues to be of significance today as scholars document this point both theoretically and empirically, see Antonucci, Ajrouch, & Birditt (2014) , for a review. Context also matters, in that the ways in which social relations evolve and influence well-being have been shown to vary across time and place ( Ajrouch, Fuller, Akiyama & Antonucci, 2017 ; Fiori, Smith & Antonucci, 2007 ). At the same time, technological developments are fundamentally changing the ways in which we experience social relations, and may impact health and well-being accordingly. In this invited essay, we identify the convoy model as our guiding theoretical framework for understanding continuity and change in social relations. We consider how social relations have changed over time, specifically how technological advances engender new modes of contact for older adults. This is followed by a consideration of challenges facing the study of social relations, with particular attention to the need for theoretical and empirical assessments that take into account newly developing characteristics of our society. These include changes in the demography of the family and changes in migration patterns. We then elaborate on how new of experiencing social relations may have both positive and negative effects, thereby differentially influencing health and well-being. An important challenge to the field of social relations is to consider how to incorporate these developments into current and timely research.

The Convoy Model of Social Relations

The convoy model was developed to specify the scientific study of social relations by detailing the antecedent factors influencing social relations (personal and situational), identifying multiple dimensions of social relations, and illustrating how these factors influence health and well-being ( Antonucci, 2001 ; Kahn & Antonucci, 1980 ). Individual characteristics such as age, gender, race, and religion illustrate the personal characteristics thought to influence social relations, whereas situational characteristics such as roles, norms, organizations, and communities were identified as important external factors influencing social relations. Multiple dimensions of social relations were specified to include convoy structure, support, and satisfaction or relationship quality. The tenets of the convoy model were built on key findings in the literature showing that social relations are an important part of the health and well-being of older people in the United States and around the globe.

Structure refers to characteristics of the people in one’s network such as size, composition, contact frequency, and geographic proximity. Size and composition are important in so far as larger, more diverse networks are associated with positive outcomes. Much evidence has accumulated to indicate that older people enjoy spending leisure time with friends and that these relationships are associated with positive well-being ( Adams & Blieszner, 1989 ; Antonucci & Akiyama, 1995 ). On the other hand, older people also frequently report that they would turn to family, specifically spouse and children when in need. Cantor’s (1979) hierarchy of caregiving clearly designated the order of caregiving preference to be spouse/partner, child, other family, friend\neighbor, and formal caregiver.

A great deal of attention over the last century was given to the “decline of the family” as well as the decreased status of elders in our society. It was argued that older people were increasingly disrespected, alone, and isolated. Yet, classic studies challenged these notions with extensive, empirical investigations. It is now fairly well established, and convoy data continue to empirically support, that older people generally live quite close to and are in regular contact with their children ( Ajrouch et al., 2017 ; Fiori, Antonucci & Akiyama, 2008 ; Shanas et al, 1968 ). Not only do older people receive help, support, and contributions from their children, they also provide these same types of assistance to their children. In fact, older people often provide more than they receive ( Akiyama, Antonucci, & Campbell, 1997 ; Webster et al., 2012 ; Wiemers, Seltzer, Schoen, Hotz & Bianchi, 2016 ). In sum, social support structure includes various elements, all of which are included in the convoy model.

Support refers to the provision and receipt of support, such as aid, affect and affirmation. Lack of social support can have a significant negative impact on health and well-being. One of the most intriguing classic findings is that the single factor most likely to prevent nursing home placement is the report by the older person that they had a confidante, someone with whom they could share their intimate feelings ( Lowenthal & Haven, 1968 ; this finding has been replicated around the world, e.g. in Australia by Giles, Glonek, Luszcz, & Andrews, 2007 ). Social support, and, in particular, protection from isolation and loneliness, are clearly important for the health and well-being of older people. The convoy model recognizes various support types, including instrumental and emotional support, as key predictors of health and well-being.

Satisfaction refers to one’s assessment of one’s social relations, sometimes referred to as adequacy or quality of relationships. It was thought that the existence of a relationship presupposed positive relationship quality and support. These assumptions were increasingly questioned as people began to note that while some families did evidence close, positive relationships, others might better be characterized as negative or ambivalent (both positive and negative) at best. Troll (1971) used the term residential propinquity to note that while many older people wanted to remain close to their family, they actually preferred not to live with them. She suggested that people recognized that it was easier to maintain positive relationships when some distance, privacy, and independence could be maintained. Family relations often include intergenerational relations. Bengtson and his colleagues expanded the family social relations literature by examining intrafamily intergenerational relations and introducing solidarity theory. According to this theory, positive features of adult child–parent ties include contact, emotional bonds, and support exchanges ( Fingerman, Sechrist, & Birditt, 2013 ; Silverstein & Bengtson, 1997 ). In addition, once Bengtson and colleagues expanded this work to investigate the possibility of negativity in intergenerational relations ( Silverstein, Parrott, Angelinni, & Cook, 2000 ), they found that in most families some level of conflict also existed, with younger people reporting more conflict than older people. Bengtson attributed this to differences in intergenerational stake, which referred to the fact that older people were more invested in family links to ensure their legacy, whereas younger people sought to establish independence and create their own legacy ( Bengtson & Kuypers, 1971 ). Empirical evidence has accumulated supporting both these theoretical perspectives ( Suitor, Sechrist, Gilligan, & Pillemer, 2011 ). The convoy model ensures attention to the complexity of relationships quality.

Over the years, evidence has accumulated in support of the convoy model ( Antonucci, 2001 ; Ajrouch et al., 2017 ). Fortunately, the model is designed to incorporate the study of newly emerging developments that might influence social relations. Technological advances, especially with regard to communication technology and social media, offer new ways for enabling older adults to establish social connectedness with family and friends ( Czaja et al., 2017 ; Delello & McWhorter, 2017 ; Leist, 2013 ). Technology can also provide pathways for support in managing health conditions among older adults and those who provide care ( Czaja, 2017 ). Though, as the convoy model posits, use and benefits of technology likely vary according to personal and situational characteristics, and will influence health in unique ways.

Incorporating Technological Developments Into the Study of Social Relations

The nature of social interaction has changed as technological advances have provided new methods of contact. Consider the evolution from in-person contact and letter writing to the telegraph and telephone and, most recently, to ever more individualized and electronic forms of contact such as cell phones, video calls (e.g., Skype, FaceTime), and social media (e.g., Facebook). We know very little about how different forms of communication influence social relations, health, and well-being.

To address the observation that social relations are now experienced in new ways because of technological developments, we recently analyzed a measure of contact frequency that distinguished in-person contact from telephone and electronic contact using the longitudinal Survey of Social Relations ( Antonucci, Birditt & Webster, 2010 ). See Table 1 for a description of participant characteristics. We then examined the degree to which positive and negative relationship quality measured at Time 1, predicted adults’ frequency and use of different forms of communication 10 years later with members of their convoy, namely parents, spouse, child, and friend. We briefly report on our findings in the following paragraphs. For those who might doubt their use, we should note that older adults are increasingly using social media. While over 90% of young people are online and have cell phones, over half of adults age 65 and over are online and 78% own a cell phone ( Anderson, 2015 ; Zickuhr & Madden, 2012 ).

Social Relations Study Wave 3 (Time 2) Sample Descriptives ( N = 557)

Note . Includes nonindependent sample of respondents who completed interviews at both Time 1 and Time 2. M = mean; SD = standard deviation.

Considering different contact modes, as expected, in-person contact was most frequent with spouse (see Table 2 ). Electronic communication was lowest with parents. Interestingly, telephone use was consistent across all relationships.

Descriptive Statistics for Contact Frequency With Network Members via Different Modes a

Note. M = mean; SD = standard deviation.

In many cases, links between relationship quality and contact differed between younger and older adults, depending on the mode of contact. Among older respondents, in-person contact frequency with fathers with whom respondents had a highly negative relationship was much lower than among those with a lower negative relationship quality (see Figure 1 ; all graphs plotted at 1 SD above and below the mean for relationship quality and age). On the other hand, there was little difference among younger respondents’ contact frequency across levels of negative relationship quality with father.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
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Relationship quality by age interaction effect on in-person contact with father.

There was also an age × relationship quality effect on telephone contact with spouse indicating little difference among younger people, but older people with low spousal positive relationship quality reporting significantly less telephone contact with their spouse than those with a high spousal positive relationship quality ( Figure 2 ). The findings with respect to negative relationship quality were somewhat but not completely parallel. Level of negativity in the relationship did not influence frequency of telephone contact with friends among older people but, interestingly, more negativity in the relationship was associated with more telephone contact with friends among younger people ( Figure 3 ).

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is igx02902.jpg

Relationship quality by age interaction effect on telephone contact with spouse.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is igx02903.jpg

Relationship quality by age interaction effect on telephone contact with friend.

Finally, we examined the use of electronic forms of communication such as video chat, Skype, text, Facebook, and email. There were no effects of positive relationship quality across any of these forms of communication, although older people were less likely to use them than younger people. This age effect was also evident for negative relationship quality. Older people with high negativity in their relationship with their child were significantly less likely to communicate with them electronically than those with low negativity in their child relationship ( Figure 4 ). On the other hand, once again there were no differences in electronic communications among young people regardless of the negativity of their relationship with child.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is igx02904.jpg

Relationship quality by age interaction effect on electronic contact with child.

In sum, these findings show how new ways of experiencing social relations vary by age and relationship type. These findings do suggest some age differences but perhaps most importantly highlight the role of relationship quality to mode of communication. New ways of engaging in social relations are not evenly experienced across generations, and hence point to new areas for investigating how social relations influence well-being. Next, we present the ways in which new contact forms via technological developments inform the scientific study of social relations in the context of demographic shifts and health.

Population Demographic Shifts

Many technological advances have occurred within the context of broader demographic changes, including shifts in mortality, fertility, mobility, and marital patterns ( Bianchi, 2014 ). Longer life spans provide older adults with more opportunities to build relationships with younger generations. Increased mobility and migration have led to less geographically proximate family networks, posing potential barriers to support exchanges and contact. Changes in marital patterns have resulted in increasing heterogeneity of family structures. Thus, older adults today are embedded within diverse and complex family structures that shape the type and quality of their social ties. It is important to consider these new aging family forms and functions when evaluating the role of technology in the establishment and maintenance of these social ties, and how the social needs of older adults are being met through technological advances in communication. We next discuss how these demographic shifts influence patterns of intergenerational and romantic relationships, the adaptation of immigrants, and the implications that technology has for these patterns.

Intergenerational Relations

Families are changing such that intergenerational ties, especially those across more than two generations, are becoming increasingly salient ( Antonucci, Jackson, & Biggs, 2007 ; Bengtson, 2001 ; Swartz, 2009 ). Although older adults are less likely to adopt new technologies, they may be motivated to do so by intergenerational ties, e.g., to learn to use a smartphone or social media in order to maintain contact with children and grandchildren. A recent cross-national study demonstrated that countries with a higher prevalence of mobile phone subscriptions also had higher levels of maternal contact by adult children, particularly daughters ( Gubernskaya & Treas, 2016 ).

Technology has the unique potential to influence grandparent–grandchild relationships due to younger generations’ faster adoption of new technologies. Although in-person communication continues to be the most frequent type of contact for grandparents, mobile phones, texting, and email are becoming increasingly popular as a means of staying in touch with grandchildren ( Hurme, Westerback, & Quadrello, 2010 ; Quadrello et al., 2005 ). Given the increased mobility of families and the inverse relationship between geographic proximity and in-person contact, newer communication technologies provide a means by which grandparents can overcome barriers of distance to maintain meaningful ties with younger generations.

Increased levels of intergenerational contact via multiple media platforms, including texting and social networking sites, can have both positive and negative implications for the quality of relationships. Increased contact between older and younger generations could foster feelings of solidarity and closeness, leading to more positive evaluations of the relationship. On the other hand, higher levels of telephone and electronic contact could also promote more negative interactions and exchanges, especially when compared to in-person contact which may mute negativity because of the ability to perceive real-time reactions. Similarly, more technologically proficient individuals may feel frustrated with friends or relatives who struggle to communicate with newer technologies, eroding the quality of their relationship. More research is needed to identify the positive and negative implications of contact via newer technologies for intergenerational relationships, especially given the generational disparities in technology use ( Fingerman & Birditt, 2011 ).

Immigrant Aging

New and varied ways to communicate across geographic distances have created a world of possibilities for immigrants. The advent of communication technologies such as Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, and FaceTime (among others), has made the ability to connect with close others who are geographically distant almost effortless. Moreover, smart phones are revolutionizing communication patterns, no longer restricting the ability to connect by having to be at a particular place. New technologies now facilitate connections between individuals wherever they are instead of individuals in specific locations. For older immigrants, these ways of having social relations may be a double-edged sword, as they facilitate relationships with those left behind, but may also make interactions in the host country more segregated. On the other hand, the Internet may simply serve as a buffer, much as ethnic enclaves do, facilitating adaptation and integration to the host society. We review recent findings in the following paragraphs.

Technology can be an outlet for immigrants who are socially isolated. For instance, among older immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel, social media became a resource that both reunited families and old friends living in various parts of the world, as well as helped to create new relationships ( Khvorostianov, Elias, & Nimrod, 2012 ). This way of practicing social relations overcame major problems encountered by elderly immigrants—that of loneliness and social isolation. Khvorostianov and colleagues illustrate that such connections served as a source of joy and empowerment, facilitating transnational connections created through the Internet, ultimately supporting social integration. Similar trends have been identified among older Chinese immigrants living in New Zealand ( Zhang, 2016 ).

For immigrants who leave their homeland at a young age, using information and communication technology (ICT) can, in fact, strengthen adaptation in the host country as one grows older. Hunter (2015) found that migrant workers from Africa living in France opted to remain in the host society after retirement given the ease with which they could connect with family back home as well as remain connected to attachments in France that were reinforced through smart phone technology. Evidence is accumulating to suggest that older immigrants’ social relations facilitated through ICT leads to stronger identities, and empowerment, overall enhancing quality of life. Yet, research of this sort is sparse, and generally occurs with small, nonrepresentative samples. The potential advantages and challenges that arise for immigrants through these new types of social relations is an area in need of further study.

Marital Patterns

A population trend that has widespread implications for how older adults use technology is the heterogeneity of marital statuses, including “gray divorce” (i.e., divorce after the age of 50; Brown & Lin, 2013 ) and never married older adults ( Cooney & Dunne, 2001 ). The misconception that older singles are not interested in finding and maintaining romantic relationships is countered by increasing numbers of later life daters ( Brown & Shinohara, 2013 ). The role that the Internet and social media play in establishing new romantic relationships presents a promising opportunity for research on how older adults use technology.

Although growing numbers of older adults turn to the Internet, including social media and dating websites, to find romantic partners, a surprising lack of attention has been paid regarding older adults’ use of technology to establish romantic connections. Online dating has become a popular means of finding romantic partners for people of all ages, including older adults. Some studies suggest that middle-aged and older adults may, in fact, be more likely than younger adults to use the Internet to meet potential partners ( Stephure, Boon, Mackinnon, & Deveau, 2009 ; Valkenburg & Peter, 2007 ). One advantage of online dating is that individuals’ partner preferences can be tailored and expectations can be explicitly stated. Older adults have been found to capitalize on this feature through the content of their online personal ads ( Alterovitz & Mendelsohn, 2009 ; Davis & Fingerman, 2016 ; Wada, Mortenson, & Hurd Clarke, 2016 ).

In response to older adults’ adoption of the Internet in finding romantic partners, dating websites have made a more concerted effort to target this population. Popular dating websites boast large bases of older subscribers, whereas others are solely dedicated to serving adults aged 50 and older (e.g. ). This is one example of how older adults are not simply consumers of new technology, but also influence the creation of new technology aimed to meet their social needs. Future research should consider the evolving bi-directionality of technology use by older individuals and their resulting influence on the development of new technology. Next, we consider how technology may impact social relations in the context of health.

Social Relations and Health

New technologies have been found to directly influence health due to the possibilities they generate to better connect with others. There is concern that the latest forms of contact and communication threaten community in the U.S. ( Althaus & Tewksbury, 2000 ); yet, it appears that using the Internet is associated with higher levels of perceived support among older adults ( Cody et al., 1999 ) and lower levels of isolation and loneliness ( Cotten, Anderson & McCullough, 2013 ). Further, older adults are often motivated to use new technologies so that they may connect with others ( Sims, Reed, & Carr, 2016 ). In sum, opportunities to enhance social relations through new technologies may initiate new ways to think about how social relations influence health and well-being.

New ways to create and sustain social relations may represent viable alternative sources for developing a sense of community in situations where mobility is limited or restricted. Research indicates that technological developments greatly expand communication options for older adults with mobility limitations, resulting in positive effects for well-being ( Jaeger & Xie, 2009 ; Sims et al., 2016 ). Yet, the effects of communication technology are not necessarily always direct. For instance, Elliot and colleagues (2014) found that ill-health was a considerably weaker predictor of depressive symptoms for high ICT users than for non/limited users, but there was no direct effect of ICT on depressive symptoms. Furthermore, limitations in activities of daily living were a stronger predictor of depressive symptoms for high ICT users. Hence, the benefits of ICT for health are still not clear. Yet, the benefit of ICT-mediated social relations for health and well-being suggests multiple avenues to pursue for social support interventions that may address the challenges that older adults face with the onset of chronic illness. Technological innovations have also spawned various new forms of telehealth communications and treatment as well as social support interventions for their caregivers. We present examples of these potential opportunities next.

Social Support, Intervention, and Technology

Innovative uses of technology have been applied to create social support interventions that maximize good health and well-being. Use of the Internet has opened new avenues for enhancing social support for older adults, especially to address the threat of social isolation and loneliness. One such intervention is the Personal Reminder Information and Social Management (PRISM) system ( Czaja et al., 2017 ). According to Czaja and colleagues, PRISM is a software application designed to support connectivity and resource access among older adults. In a randomized control trial, they showed that access to technology applications, especially email, Internet and games, facilitated social engagement, and provided an effective means of promoting social interactions and connections. Likewise, Delello and McWhorter (2017) showed in a mixed-method study among older adults living in a retirement community that iPads can be used to facilitate closer family relationships and greater overall connection to wider society. Moreover, both studies challenge myths that older adults avoid new technology. Instead, older adults can and will learn new skills to use technology successfully, even if they have never been exposed to it before.

Beyond the issue of social isolation, new communication technology creates unique ways for those with chronic disease to receive support that helps older adults meet the demands of managing illness. One promising mode involves interactive voice response technology (IVR). IVR provides an opportunity to use technology to schedule automated telephone assessment and self-care support calls ( Heisler & Piette, 2005 ). In the case of diabetes, Heilser and Piette used IVR to facilitate connections between peers with the same disease. Findings showed that the technology facilitates an opportunity for reciprocity, where each peer receives and as well as provides support. Moreover, the support experience appears to generate increased self-efficacy, ultimately contributing to better management of diabetes. The IVR technology has also been extended to create the notion of CarePartners as a means to address the health and well-being of informal caregivers ( Piette et al., 2015 ). Piette and colleagues conducted a randomized trial of mobile health support for heart failure patients and their informal caregivers. A CarePartner was identified by measuring the elements of closeness, support type, and quality of key individuals identified by the patient. That person then became the caregiver. The identified caregiver received weekly emails about their loved one’s status and suggestions for how to support self-management. In sum, the provision of informal support was facilitated by IVR and Internet technology. Technological innovations suggest several potential opportunities to leverage the benefits of social support for health and well-being.

Summary and Conclusion

New forms of communication have created unique challenges for understanding relationships. Electronic communication, such as Facebook, instant messaging, Snapchat, Skype, FaceTime, and have all created new opportunities to maintain contacts with close others. Cell phones and email have fundamentally changed how and how often people communicate. The reduced cost of these forms of contact has resulted in almost universal adaptation of some, if not all, of these tools of communication to maintain contact with friends and family. However, we know very little about the effect of these new forms of communication. On the plus side, increased communication can lead to less likelihood of isolation, with easy opportunity to share good news, seek advice about problems, manage health conditions, and generally enjoy exchanges with people we love ( Czaja, 2017 ; Delello & McWhorter, 2017 ; Leist, 2013 ). But is there a minus side? It is also possible that people are losing the art of face-to-face contact, that people are more negative in less personal forms of communication, witness the rise in cyberbullying, because they do not see another’s reactions. Although it is recognized that these public forms of communication can be hurtful, little is currently being done to restrict such negativity. These are challenges that clearly must be addressed. Incorporating new ways of having social relations into theory, recognizing that the use and benefits of technology likely vary according to personal and situational characteristics, and that these new social relations will influence health in unique ways represent important future directions. The convoy model provides a helpful framework for thinking about the ways in which new technologies create new forms of social relations. It is quite clear that the advent and evolution of new communication technologies provide exciting and promising new directions for how we develop, use, and experience social relations.

Conflict of Interest

None reported.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health 1R01AG045423-01.

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Chapter 7: Technology’s Influence on Parent-Child Relationships

7.1 Technology’s Influence on Parent-Child Relationships

Well, an element of conflict in any discussion’s a very good thing.

It means everybody is taking part and nobody is left out.

― from Harvey by Mary Chase

Chapter Insights

  • Two concepts that underlie parent-child relationships: the emotional context of parenting style as the balance (or imbalance) of demandingness and warmth; and relationship dynamics as the coordination of agency/communion perspectives by parent and by child.
  • Parental mediation can be active, restrictive, and indirect. Active mediation involves parent-child communication, parent engagement in media content exposure, and coordinated activity to negotiate rules.
  • A variety of factors related to the parents (e.g., mediacentrism), the child (e.g., age) and the context (e.g., COVID-19 pandemic) can affect parent behavior on regulating children’s use.
  • Reverse mediation, or when children’s knowledge of technology exceeds parents’ and enacted to aid the parent’s use, can be a potential conflict in the relationship.
  • Conflict in the parent-child relationship might occur in several ways related to technology (e.g., through parental attempts to control technology use, negotiations on content).
  • Differences exist in perceived conflict in families by child age (e.g., fewer parents report conflict with children under 8 years), and changes in parent control with age. Influences on parental control can relate to the child’s advancing development (e.g., confidence, knowledge of child’s actual use, ability to stick with plans).
  • Potential conflict to the parent-child relationship, to parenting, and to the child’s well-being can occur through the parent’s own technology use while with the child. Distractedness (or “technoference”) has been related to a variety of parenting consequences.
  • After reading this chapter, identify what you feel inspired by, the questions that remain for you, and the steps you can take for your own technology use to be more intentional.

Mother and daughter looking at a laptop computer

The Parent-Child Relationship

Relationships between parents and children are key to family well-being: as a vehicle to “successful” parenting, which means healthy child development; in the ongoing happiness of children and of parents; and in overall family satisfaction. The dynamic between parent and child is a reciprocal, emotional context through which information is communicated that guides the child’s understanding of themselves and the world; through which the parent expresses their knowledge, experience, goals, and dreams for their child; and through which the parent develops (Azar, 2006; Harach & Kuczynski, 2005). And as parenting is a social role, one conferred with certain responsibility and expectation by the society and culture in which the family lives, the relationship with the child may be viewed differently. Some may view the role with more authoritarian rights; others may view the child’s agency as a vehicle for expression that calls for a more democratic, authoritative approach (Bornstein, 2012). And some may be so overwhelmed by society’s demands and challenges that they view the role with near resignation and give authority to the child to determine their path.

And each parent-child experience is different. As we viewed Belsky’s multiple determinant model in Chapter 6, we saw how parents’ perspectives change with experience, age, gender, socialization, and developmental history. Their interactions also depend on unique characteristics of the child. And the social context factors heavily on the parent-child dynamic, particularly as support is available to buffer stressors. In short, each relationship between a parent and child is like no other. It is forever in the life of the child, and it changes over time and with changes that occur in the lives of the parent and of the child. This transactional, developmental, contextual consideration of the parent-child relationship over time has led scholars to call for using a life-course perspective when characterizing the enduring nature of the unique human experience as facilitated by technology (Dworkin et al., 2019; Shin et al., 2021).

In previous chapters we’ve gleaned the systemic, ecological, and biological forces on individuals in families and on family member subsets, and understood technology as an external force that influences the family through facilitating communication, aiding family life, and at times introducing conflict through differences in the ways that family members use technology. In Chapter 5 we understood the many ways technology can impact all domains of children’s development — cognitive, social, psychological, and physical — and differences in use and impacts as children age from infants through young adults. In Chapter 6 we reviewed basic functions of parenting that emphasize the physical health and well-being of the child (keeping the child safe and thriving); guiding the many social, emotional, cognitive, and physical aspects of the child’s development; and at times being an advocate for the child. We saw that technology could support the parent’s role in childrearing — primarily as it supports the parent as a vehicle to social and informational support, and as an expression of the parent’s identity. We also introduced other ways that parents use technology in the parenting role — with their children, and with technology as the focus of their parenting.

In this chapter we take a closer look at these dynamic elements of technology in the parent-child relationship, including how parents enact their role in childrearing through parenting about technology. Parents mediate, monitor, and moderate children’s use, and in keeping their children safe and their technology use effective, parents also model ways to use technology through their own behavior.  Parents mediate, monitor, and moderate children’s use, and in keeping their children safe and their technology use effective, parents also model ways to use technology through their own behavior. Yet there are certain “paradoxes” that affect technology’s application to the parent-child relationship (Hessel & Dworkin, 2018; Jarvenpaa & Lang, 2005). For example, we see that generational differences in exposure to technology, comfort and skill in use, and motivations for use can create a shift in a relationship’s power dynamic. This may result in friction between parent and child. This chapter will explore those possibilities and recommendations for peaceful negotiation.

This chapter will also look at technology use as it positively facilitates and influences the quality of parent-child relationship. Applications like FaceTime, texting, and social media are used to maintain communication and feelings of connectedness between parent and child, and can promote feelings of cohesion. This can be seen by the time college students spend texting or making video or voice calls to their parents while away (Vaterlaus et al., 2019), and in the heavy use of videoconferencing between parents and children, and grandparents and children, during COVID (Hamilton, et al, 2021). Indeed many parents and children are quite positive about having mobile devices as a means for continued family contact. Media multiplexity theory posits that when a “repertoire” of technologies are used, the relationship is closer (McCurdy et al., 2022).

Parents looking at phones while daughter waits

Yet relational use can also mean the nonverbal communication that comes when a parent or child ignores the other, distracted by technology. Sadly this is an all too real scenario that can disrupt quality in the relationship. Studies suggest that parental distraction by technology can compromise secure attachment and, consequently, child development (Kildare & Middlemiss, 2019; McDaniel, 2019). Parents can also overshare online, much to the embarrassment of the child (Blum-Ross & Livingstone, 2017). These elements of technology and the parent-child relationship are explored in this chapter.

Finally, analysts of the existing literature identify both assets and challenges of current technology and the ways in which they are used to facilitate the parent-child relationship (e.g., Shin et al., 2021). The chapter closes with their observations and questions to move us forward in this important family topic.

Parenting Frameworks

To set the stage for a deeper understanding of the parent-child relationship dynamic, we’ll explore two parenting frameworks. One is a frequently used construct of the parent’s style of communicating which offers an emotional context for the relationship. The other is less well known, yet presents the balanced perspective of both actors in the relationship and the balance required for connection.

Parenting style

Parenting style is frequently studied as the emotional context through which parents assert authority or invite children’s input while guiding children’s behavior (Darling & Steinberg, 1993, 2017; Smetana, 2017). Because of this, parenting style has been conceptually and empirically related to measurable elements of childrearing, such as demonstration of support, relational depth, and parent–child conflict (Aloia & Warren, 2019), which in turn contribute to myriad child outcomes (Smetana, 2017).

Baumrind’s (1971) parenting style construct uses demonstrations at the intersection of warmth and demandingness as indication of authoritative (balanced), authoritarian (high demandingness, low warmth), permissive (low demandingness, high warmth), and neglectful (low demandingness, low warmth) childrearing. Contemporary perspectives on Baumrind’s construct encourage adaptations through a cultural and contextual lens, and consideration of factors such as parenting beliefs that moderate demonstrations of style (Smetana, 2017). More domain-specific applications have been suggested which are sensitive to the interplay between parent’s goals, child’s needs, and parenting processes. [1]

essay on technology and relationships

Examples of parenting style and parental mediation have found, in general, that those who are more permissive (higher in warmth over control) are less likely to restrict children’s screen time, while those who are more authoritarian are more likely to do so. In a 2009 study, Bumpass and Werner explored types of parental technology regulation. They studied 113 children in 3rd to 6th grades and 109 mothers, identifying four clusters based on rules, enforcement strategies, consequences, and child adjustment. Traditional mothers reported rules related to time, permission, and co-viewing. Technology-specific mothers used blocking software, filtering, and removal of privileges. Passive mothers voiced rules that required only minimal parental supervision, and they were more watchful of the child’s interest. And the children of parents with few rules (e.g., neglectful) reported slightly higher levels of internalizing problems such as depression and anxiety, and demonstrated slightly lower levels of prosocial behavior.

Wartella et al. (2013) found a parallel between parenting style and family media practices. Looking at families with children between birth to 8 years, those in mediacentric households (reporting approximately 11 hours or more per day) were more permissive than those who were media moderate or “media light.” Children in mediacentric homes are also more likely to have televisions in their bedrooms.

As demonstration of the complexity of applying the parenting style construct to the parent-child relationship with technology, a study of 504 parent-teen (12–17 year old) pairs proposed a model linking parenting style, online relational behaviors, and relational quality (Aloia & Warren, 2019). The researchers hypothesized that parental behaviors such as sending comforting messages and sharing material would mediate (i.e., be a conveyor for) parenting style and parent-child relationship quality including parent-child conflict and relational depth. In fact, although they validated previous research linking parenting style to relationship quality (e.g., enhanced parent-child conflict with authoritarian or permissive parenting), they found no relationship between parenting style, online relational behaviors by the parents, and relationship quality. Authoritarian parenting showed no relationship to any of the online strategies (comforting messages, material sharing, planning behaviors), and authoritative parenting showed positive and significant relationships to all three, yet permissive parenting also related significantly to two of the actions (comforting messages and material sharing). Planning behaviors and positive messages online were positively related to parental comfort, yet planning behaviors and material sharing were also related to perceived conflict. The authors observed methodological limitations (e.g., data from self-report) as a cause for the unexpected result, but also suggested that, ​​with regard to mediated communication channels, parents and children may develop unique norms (p. 53). As Dworkin, et al. (2019) observe,

“The insurgence of technology has completely changed the family landscape, challenging what we know and requiring a reassessment of how we understand family relationships during adolescence, a time when technology acquires new meaning for developing and maintaining interpersonal relationships. (p. 514).”

Agency and Communion

Facilitating the child’s well-being related to technology through and while maintaining a positive relationship with the child is no small feat for parents. In promoting the child’s development, the relationship must be a balance of agency and communion by both individuals: assertion of the parent’s power while keeping in mind communion with the child; promotion of the child’s agency and independence, while keeping in mind the relationship. In promoting the child’s development, the relationship must be a balance of agency and communion by both individuals: assertion of the parent’s power while keeping in mind communion with the child; promotion of the child’s agency and independence, while keeping in mind the relationship. Unlike parenting style, which assesses the actions of the parent, perspectives of agency and communion regard both actors in the relationship (Heck & Pincus, 2001; Wiggins, 1991). Each person, in interaction with the other, asserts an action reflecting dimensions of both coordinates. Conflict arises when both are seeking agency (or power) more than communion. As related to parent-child relationships, conflicts occur with both child noncompliance and resistance to parents requests (high agency/low communion) and with parent resistance to children’s requests (high agency/low communion) (Eisenberg, 1992).

Agency and communion dimensions held by each actor in an interpersonal relationship (Wiggins, 1991).

For example, if my partner and I are deciding on a vacation location, and I want to go to the mountains and they want to go to the beach, as we both assert our agency (power) in our desires, we compromise the value of communion (joint happiness). We are at a standstill and our relationship suffers. If, however, through discussion, we listen to each other about the interests of the other with a true value for the relationship and we come to compromise, we are more balanced in our individual agency and communion. Within the parent-child relationship, the parent’s actions are tempered by understanding the developmental age and ability of the child, and changes in that development over time (Heck & Pincus, 2001). Agency by the parent is, in part, a personal expression of fulfilling the responsibilities of childrearing. The joint balance of agency and communion between parent and child in negotiation and understanding is within this structure of safety and growth.

The ecological context is a consideration for both parent-child relationship models when applied to new media and digital technology. As observed in previous chapters, interactions and dynamics of the relationship are influenced by ecological contexts of the microsystem of the family, and by exosystems, macrosystems, and chronosystems. These systems create influences on the development of both the child and the parent, and on the conditions in which the family lives. Technology access and use and qualities of the devices and applications are external and inherent influences in each of the systems that can both facilitate and challenge relational dynamics (Navarro & Tudge, 2022; Lanigan, 2009).

Parental Mediation and the Parent-Child Relationship

Younger child and older woman looking at a computer screen.

Fully 98% of parents in a recent U.S. study believe it is the parent’s responsibility to protect children from online content (Auxier et al., 2020), compared to 65% expecting the government or technology (78%) companies to bear responsibility. While most parents (71%) are aware of and concerned about the amount of time children 11 and younger are spending with screens (Auxier et al., 2020), more (84%) report feeling confident that they know how much screen time is too much. Most (71%) believe that widespread use of smartphones might be harmful to their children’s socioemotional learning. There is also concern by most about exposure to online predators (63%), sexually explicit content (60%), and violent content (59%). While bullying is a general concern of many parents, the majority (96% of parents of children 5–11) report that their child has not been bullied online (Auxier et al., 2020).

As parents assert their responsibilities to keep children safe online and guide their development, potential areas of conflict include:

  • Parental attempts to regulate use.
  • Parental concern over potentially negative consequences of internet use that can lead to over-restrictions on use.
  • An imbalance of power as expertise in technology use varies between parent and child.
  • Counter modeling of technology by parents’ own use (e.g., do as I say, not as I do)
  • Parent invasion of children’s online social space.

The majority of families don’t perceive significant conflict around technology. Parents of young children (birth to age 8) don’t perceive regulating children’s technology use to be a conflict (Wartella et al., 2013). Even parents of older children (8 to 18 years) don’t report significant struggles. In a 2016 Commonsense Media report, nearly two-thirds of parents (62%) disagreed that getting a child to turn off their smartphone or tablet was a struggle. The majority (85%) agreed that monitoring child safety was important, and nearly the same amount (81%) disagreed that the child was less likely to communicate face-to-face. That said, parents of boys and of those children with lower grades did report greater struggle. Similarly, a 2018 report of families in the European Union also determined that most do not report conflict on technology use (Livingstone et al., 2015).

In large part, there is optimism that the lack of conflict observed in families is the result of technology oversight integrated into parenting practices and the parent-child relationship. Technology and adolescence researcher Candice Ogders (2018) observes,

Because online problems can be largely predicted by young people’s vulnerabilities offline, much of our existing knowledge about what promotes healthy child development is applicable even in what seems like a foreign digital landscape. Strategies such as the maintenance of supportive parent–child relationships that encourage disclosure, parental involvement in the activities of their children, and the avoidance of overly restrictive or coercive monitoring will help to support adolescents and keep them safe online, just as they do offline.

In the next section we explore types of mediation practices in families, and the potential for conflict, and the opportunities for parent-child communication.

Mediation practices

Apple TV screen showing parental controls.

Mediation practices vary by type and family (Rudi & Dworkin, 2018). Frequently, mediation practices are labeled as active  or “enabling” (of positive technology use) or restrictive. A recent qualitative study with 40 parents of Australian teens (Page, 2021) identified five mediation strategies, three of which were active: physical observation, digital surveillance, and trust-based and discursive strategies; one restrictive: restriction and control through social or technical means; and one (as alluded to in Chapter 6), indirect: talking with other parents. Parents’ active mediation occurs through direct parent-to-child interaction and conversation about media’s effects. Co-viewing or co-participation (such as playing games) enables parents to actively mediate and monitor children’s exposure and scaffold healthy use. More restrictive mediation means setting rules regarding the time spent or content viewed. It can also mean “e-rewards,” in which parents withhold or grant technology use in recognition of good behavior. More restrictive mediation means setting rules regarding the time spent or content viewed. It can also mean “e-rewards,” in which parents withhold or grant technology use in recognition of good behavior. Across the approaches, restrictive mediation can reduce negative media effects, and co-viewing or “enabling” can enhance or facilitate media’s positive effects (Coyne et al., 2017).

The EU Kids Online report (2020) surveyed children age 9–16 years in 19 countries. An average of 33% said their parents actively talk to them about the internet, 30% said sometimes, and 37% said never. Across countries, on average, higher percentages of children at younger ages reported parent discussion about the internet “at least sometimes:” 67% of 9–11 year olds, 61% of 12–14 year olds, and 54% of those 16 and older. When asked about active mediation strategies by parents, friends, and teachers, the highest percentages were reported for parents (e.g., 64% reported that parents “help me when something bothers me on the internet,” compared with 45% friends and 35% teachers). Internet safety is a common topic of mediation, with 85% of EU children reporting that their parents talk about this. More technical controls are far less frequently reported (22%, on average, report parental control through GPS monitoring, use of software that blocks or filters internet content, or tracking applications) . Also, a minority of children — about 15% — reported restrictions on using a web camera, downloading music, or using social media. That said, there are very clear differences in social media use restrictions by age, with the majority of children age 9–11 indicating that they cannot use social media.

The resolution of “conflict” with mediation is more nuanced than might be believed. Recent research with Australian families of teens revealed the range of ways that parents negotiating technology use with their teenagers (Page, 2021). Traditional mediation strategies may be used, but when they are not successful parents turn to other strategies, such as trust-based and discursive (reasoned negotiation) ones. Similarly, in interview research with pre-teen and teenage children (n=23) and their parents (n=18, Blackwell et al., 2016), children expressed the desire for shared expectations, rather than more attention to the issue of technology. They claimed that parents primarily told them what not to do, and didn’t have a very accurate perception of either the quantity or quality of their screen time, or its effects on them. The interviews unlocked a more complex dynamic than of parents establishing rules and children breaking them. They identified a give-and-take in negotiating family life, in which children’s needs and desires for technology use are taken into consideration, and reflect nuance — for example, when “rule violation” is acceptable. The authors concluded that families respect the developing teen’s need for privacy and independence, while maintaining  consistent and realistic expectations around work, attention, and the interests of the whole family to better manage household technology use.

Influences on parental mediation

Age of child.

Parental restrictions on children’s technology use largely curve with the child’s age — with monitoring occurring through co-use in early childhood and middle childhood, then tapering off through adolescence.

A child with her family playing a videogame on the subway.

Naab (2018) refers to early childhood parenting mediation as “trusteeship,” as the cognition and communication skill limitations of the very young child confer responsibilities on the parent to oversee their access and safe use as they make the transition to mediating children’s own active, independent use. Co-viewing with young children appears to be predominantly through traditional media including books, TV, smartphones, and tablets, and less so with games (Connell et al., 2015). As an indication of the blend of parental agency in the role and accommodating a child’s need, some parents may use media to soothe babies who are fussy and demonstrate poor self-regulation. Mediation with school age children can be restrictive (limiting use of hardware or software, including taking away technology as a punishment), monitoring (tracking use, messages, and the child’s location), and active (talking to children about their technology use) (Auxier et al., 2020; Blum-Ross et al., 2018; Livingstone et al., 2015).

Parents’ conversations with their children about the content of their media also varies by child age. In Commonsense Media’s 2016 study of parents and their teens and “tweens,” parents were more likely to talk with their 12–14 year olds about media content while watching television, viewing apps on a device, using a computer for something other than homework, and playing videogames than with their teenagers; only when it came to social media did parents report higher frequencies of discussing content with children. Coyne et al. (2017) observe that research has yet to determine the interplay between parents’ mediation strategies and more specific child characteristics.

Family demographic differences

Parents’ education, income, gender, and age may influence mediation. Parents who are higher in income and educational attainment and who demonstrate more comfort with technology may exercise more mediational practices. Livingstone et al. (2015) determined socioeconomic differences in mediation strategies and attitudes in a sample of parents of primarily 4- to 7-year-old children in seven countries, including England, Finland, and Russia. Families with less income, formal education, who are non-White, and whose parents measure higher on depression are more likely to report higher rates of media consumption. When surveyed, many parents note that media provides a safe, inexpensive, and available form of entertainment for their children (Livingstone et al., 2018). Similarly, Wartella et al.’s (2013) observation of permissive parenting style and mediacentrism, noted earlier, also showed demographic correlations. Parents who were lower-income and single reported greater consumption of media in the household than those with other demographic characteristics. Media was reported as a favorite family activity, and mothers were more likely to report using it as a parenting tool (e.g., keeping a child occupied and safe while she attended to other duties).  It should be noted, however, that in a U.S. sample Connell et al. (2015) found scant relationships to co-viewing with young children by parent education level or race. Parents in the EU with more education and income used a diversity of mediation strategies and encouraged non-school media use for learning. Cross national variation in parent mediation strategies has been found among the Finnish (actively engaged), Czech (passive), and in EU and UK countries and Russia (restrictive) (Helsper et al., 2013).

Mothers are more likely to demonstrate mediation than fathers (Connell et al., 2015; CSM, 2016). In their research among Portuguese school-age children, Ferreira et al. (2017) identified not only parent gender differences in mediation by type of activity (e.g., fathers actively mediating children’s use while playing videogames), but gendered perspectives by children of parents’ technology mediation. Children perceived fathers as more skilled in using technology, reported that their technology was for work (vs. mothers’ devices that were to be shared), and that the father’s mediation was more technical (e.g., uploading, removing software) and mother’s more digital (e.g., exposure to content quality).

Parents’ technology use, comfort, and skill

Parents’ mediation strategies appear to relate to their attitudes toward technology, their competencies, and their own use, as observed in research in EU countries (Brito et al., 2017; Livingstone et al., 2018) and research in the US (e.g., Commonsense Media, 2016; Wartella et al., 2013). Observing the construct of reasoned action applied to technology acceptance (Ajzen, 1985), Nikken and Opree’s (2018) survey of parents of young children (ages 1–9) in the Netherlands identified basic proficiency associated with the ease of active co-use. Advanced and basic proficiency with technology related to restrictive mediation, and advanced proficiency related to imposing technical restrictions. As Naab (2018) observed from in depth interviews with 29 parents of young children, parents are often uncertain about digital strategies and gain proficiency over time through interaction with their child, acquisition of knowledge about technology’s affordances and challenges, and their own comfort with the interplay between themselves and their child’s needs. Parents are often uncertain about digital strategies and gain proficiency over time through interaction with their child, acquisition of knowledge about technology’s affordances and challenges, and their own comfort with the interplay between themselves and their child’s needs.

Parental use can influence the effectiveness of their mediation strategies. In the Commonsense Media study with over 1100 parents in 2016, parents spend more than 9 hours a day with screen media (especially personal media like smartphones) . A majority (78%) believe they are good media and technology models for their children. Yet research with parent-teen pairs indicates that when teens see parents’ time on their phones similar to their own, they question parental advice and role modeling (Commonsense Media, 2016; Livingstone et al., 2018).

Child guidance and the power differential

Children are challenged when their parents are ‘all thumbs’ with using technology.

The picture of parental mediation can get complicated as a generation of children grow up with technology in ways far different than those of their parents, and a potential power dynamic is shifted. Livingstone et al. 2018 observe this particularly in lower-income and immigrant homes, as children gain more comfort and skill with technology than their parents (Livingstone et al., 2018), or when children need to assist parents with language translation and technology. Perhaps this is why teens don’t turn to parents for safety issues related to technology (Blum-Ross et al., 2018; Commonsense Media, 2018), or for information on sexual health. Flores and Barroso (2018) identified SES differences in parental technology comfort and use and the ability to talk to their teenagers about sex. Limited knowledge of how technology works, including realities of peer communication, privacy issues and laws, and the potential for exposure to imagery, act as barriers to parental communication that supports the child’s sexual health.

Various scholars have characterized this complicated parent-child power dynamic (Dworkin et al., 2019). Livingstone across 19 countries, on average 40% of 9–16-year-olds report often or very often helping parents when they found something difficult online, and 29% sometimes helping parents. This differential in knowledge can upset the traditional family hierarchy. (2009) refers to tech-knowledgeable children in the household as “youthful experts,” while Katz (2010) calls them ‘media brokers.’ Correa (2014) labels the knowledge sharing as “bottom-up technology transmission,” and the EU Kids on the Internet 2020 report calls this “reverse mediation.” The latter reports that, across 19 countries, on average 40% of 9–16-year-olds report often or very often helping parents when they found something difficult online, and 29% sometimes helping parents. This differential in knowledge can upset the traditional family hierarchy. In interviews with parent-teen pairs in 1995, Kiesler et al. (2000) determined that fathers’ attitudes prevented them from seeking help from their children about internet-related issues; the fathers voiced concern about a shift in their parental authority.

In a later study with Belgian parents and teens, Nelissen and Van den Bulck (2017) predicted that reports of conflict would correlate with parental requests for assistance with technology. The survey included questions like “Do you ever get into an argument with your child/with your parent about (a) television use, (b) tablet use, (c) smartphone use, or (d) computer/laptop use?” It used a 5-point Likert scale ranging from “(almost) never” (=0) to “(almost) always” (=4). With regard to media guidance, the pairs were asked “If you think about your children, how often do they teach you to use the following media, technologies, and/or applications?/If you think about your parents, how often do you teach them to use the following media, technologies, and/or applications?” Again, a 5-point Likert scale was used and applied to 13 technologiesm including smartphones, online purchases, and tablets. After controlling for demographic variables (including parent and child gender and age), there were significant associations between a parent help seeking/guidance by children and parent-child conflict. The authors observed that child guidance was dominant on some technologies — smartphones and specific apps — but not all.

An example of context as influence on parental mediation: The COVID-19 pandemic

When conditions encourage children’s technology use, parental mediation can shift. Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic was an influence. As their children connected with friends, attended school, and sought out hobbies online during isolation and quarantine, parents’ efforts to mediate children’s screen time changed. As a report by Pew (2021) indicates, fewer parents reduced children’s time on screens and took away children’s smartphone privileges. On the other hand, more parents were active in checking children’s exposure online, and parents’ beliefs that their children spent too much time online nearly doubled. Among parents of children 11 or younger, in 2020, 28% felt their children spent too much time on their phones. In 2021, that percentage climbed to 42%. (See figure below).

Some parents’ approaches to managing kids' screen time changed over the first year of the coronavirus pandemic 2020-2021.

With regard to older children, parents reported that, during COVID, connections through videoconferencing, and with resident children through gaming and time spent together, deepened personal relationships (Joyce et al., 2021).

Technology’s Role in Parent-Child Communication

The primary reason that parents secure phones for their children, even before age 12, is to communicate with them (Auxier et al., 2020). Through texting and through voice and video calls, parents can convey information to children that supports their development, enable coordination, and promote closeness. The efficiency of using ICT for communication also makes co-parenting relationships easier, such in the case of divorced and separated parents (Ganong et al., 2012; Saini & Pollack, 2018), and maintains parent-child connections during separations, including military deployment (Carter & Renshaw, 2016) and immigration (Casmiro & Nico, 2016; Karraker, 2015).

Shin et al.’s (2021) literature review on technology designs that foster the parent-child relationship identified factors indicative of family qualities and technology-specific conditions. They include:

  • reciprocity in the family,
  • reinforcement of transparency,
  • affection and trust,
  • physical proxy of each other through an object or interface design,
  • accessibility, level of technology sophistication and communication resource, and
  • enjoyable, age-appropriate shared content between parents and children, and situational awareness and routine.

Two people having a conversation using FaceTime.

When parents and children are at a distance, system design that favors media richness (closer approximation of real life) and synchronicity, and the ability to maintain privacy, are positive. Challenges to the parent-child relationship occur through discrepancies in expected communication between parent and child(ren), through parents’ complex emotions toward parenting due to their busy schedule, and, from the technological standpoint, from access limitations. As this section of the chapter indicates, the use of technology as a means to facilitate parent-child relationships is quite a complex issue. Although there are elements specific to digital media and the programming of the for communication and interaction, challenges arise through human factors inherent in the individuals and their relationships.

Connections, for example, may not always be smooth, and whether due to technology or the actor, complications can arise. Use of technology to maintain the parent-child relationship may lead to what Parrenas and Boris (2010, as cited by Karraker, 2015 p. 13) refer to as the “antithesis of intimacy.” Expectations for maintaining communication through the ease afforded by digital media can impinge on children’s or parents’ independence. Connections, for example, may not always be smooth, and whether due to technology or the actor, complications can arise. The complicated power dynamics discussed above can and do interfere with satisfaction when using technology for parent-child communications. And although teleconferencing made parent-child visits possible during COVID-19 for those facing separation due to welfare issues, technological and human barriers prevented this alternative to in-person visits from being successful (Goldberg et al., 2021).

Shin et al. (2021) observe developmental differences reflected in the availability of technology and use by parents and children that affect satisfaction. For young children, technology that is playful, age-appropriate, and encourages creativity can foster engagement by both parent and child. School-age children and their parents have a strong desire to be together, learn more about each other, and feel a sense of warmth and security. Yet designs may not be user- or communication-friendly, and differences in ability and access can create barriers to effective use. For older children (e.g., adolescents), when parents and teens have access to phones and social media, and when a common time for interaction is apparent, communication appears effective. Yet as Dworkin et al. (2019) observe, the paradox of connecting and distancing can make parents’ use of social networking and unscheduled calls feel intrusive and like a privacy invasio.

Assets and challenges are apparent for specific populations of parents and children as well. Parents and children attempting to maintain communication through technology across legal separations face particular scrutiny with regard to child privacy and safety (Saini & Pollack, 2018).  In a survey with 106 family caseworkers, Saini and Pollack (2018) identified that the majority of legally separated parents and children use technology to maintain communication. This can be quite positive, as they can each keep abreast of the life details of the other and maintain connectedness, particularly when a child is long-distance and living in the other parent’s home or in a foster home. Caseworkers also saw it as a way to protect the child from conflict in the parent-to-parent relationship, and enhance the child’s feeling of safety. Yet rampant posting on social media diminishes the child’s safety, as well as the privacy of the parent who may closely monitor and track the child. As with other cases representing the range of technologies’ uses and affordances, the picture is a complex one. Because of this, the caseworkers in Saini and Pollack’s study advocates for ICT not as a replacement for parent-child connections, but as a way to enhance communication.

Possible disruption in the relationship: Parents’ own technology use

Child with a man using an iPad outside.

As noted above, parents’ own technology use is a significant factor in their attitudes about monitoring and mediating children’s use, and in shaping and modeling children’s technology consumption. Samual’s (2017) counter response to the argument that smartphones were destroying a generation (Twenge, 2017) was that smartphones distracted parents, leading them to demonstrate “minimal parenting.” McDaniel’s (2019) and Kildare and Middlemiss’ (2017) reviews of the literature concerning parents’ use of technology when with their children paint a third picture of communication in the relationship: that of nonverbal messaging through distracted use. Noting that the majority of research in this area has focused on parents of young children, McDaniel observes the many reasons parents would use their phones with a child present. Not only do they seek information and communicate with others, seek emotional support, or continue work, but their use attempts to relieve the boredom of childrearing. This “ technoference ” (McDaniel’s term for the “everyday intrusions and interruptions of devices in our face-to-face interactions”) can have potentially serious consequences to the child through the parents’ ability to connect and engage and through the child’s own observation of the parent’s distracted action, and can negatively impact the parent’s own emotional state. Parenting outcomes of being distracted by one’s phone include reduced verbal and nonverbal interactions with the child, reduced awareness and sensitivity to the child’s needs and responses, and reduced coordination and communication in co-parenting. McDaniel, and Kildare and Middlemiss, note that these responses are directly associated with the relational mechanisms in attachment formation, although longitudinal research to date hasn’t validated these assumptions.

Additional parenting consequences of being distracted by technology include the difficulty of multitasking between the device and the needs and attention of the child, and time displacement (e.g., focusing on a phone compared to active time with a child). From the child’s perspective, they may express dissatisfaction in the time spent with the parent and in turn, feel ignored. Kildare and Middlemiss cite a study in which 32% (of 6,000) children reported feeling unimportant when their parents were distracted by a phone. As the authors of both review articles observe, more research is needed to more definitively understand specific dimensions of parental technology use with children (e.g., how much time is spent on phones when with children, specific activities parents do while on their phones) and impacts on parenting, the relationship, and child development. They also observe that it’s not reasonable to expect parents not to engage with technology when with their children, observing the complex reasons that parents use technology. They advocate for education on appropriate use, and engagement in ways that are healthy for the relationship and for the child. This resource from Zero to Three offers parents ways to focus on their children, not their phones.


As discussed in Chapter 6, parents express their caregiver and relational identities online through blogging, posting on social media, and texting ideas and images of the children to others (Blum-Ross & Livingstone, 2017). A challenge can occur in the parent-child relationship when children object to their images and information about themselves being shared, particularly without permission ( Saner (2018 ) refers to this as a “permanent digital tattoo”). While not as overt an expression of distraction by technology use as those discussed above, “sharenting” can still send a message to the child that their feelings are not being considered. Blum-Ross and Livingstone (2017) determined that when parents of younger children share images and experiences of their child and childrearing, they may also have misgivings about the archival nature of the internet and the possibility of their posts resurfacing when the child is older. Parents also express a certain element of guilt, part of the complex feelings parents describe, as discovered in Shin et al. (2022)’s review of the literature of parent-child relationships through technological innovation. Parents hold an awareness of the child’s aging to the point of awareness and expressing feelings of dissatisfaction with their private information being shared. Blum-Ross and Livingstone share this incident, which directly points to the potential conflict with “sharenting” and the need for parent-child communication to maintain communion:

Harvey confronted this issue when his 6-year-old son Archie began to express discomfort at appearing on the blog. Harvey described how Archie had begun to ask what the photos Harvey took were for, questioning “is this a photo for you, Daddy, or is it a photo for the blog”’ Increasingly Archie would refuse to be in pictures, eventually exacting revenge by covertly using Harvey’s phone to post an unflattering picture of Harvey eating a sandwich on his dad’s Instagram feed. Harvey was working with Archie to help Archie decide what “he wants me to write” so he could be more in control. Yet, finding himself cajoling his son, Harvey described a struggle between respecting his son’s boundaries and keeping his commitment to the blog and his readership among the wider blogging community. (Blum-Ross & Livingstone, 2017, p. 116).

Focus on technology-facilitated parent-child relationships in young adulthood

A significant amount of research has examined the role of technology in the parent-child relationship during young adulthood. One conclusion is that the availability and use of ICT is a positive influence on this relationship. A review by Hessel and Dworkin (2018) identified differences in how young adults use technology to communicate with parents, compared with siblings and grandparents. The authors indicated that when children go to college (given that college students are an often sampled group in this research area), there may be a stronger focus on the relationship, and technology has an intentional purpose. While they indicate that the research on persons other than parents is limited, young adults appear to use a variety of methods to maintain relationships with parents through technology, including adding parents as “friend”’ on social media, texting, and sending email (though the Hessel and Dworkin review and McCurdy et al.’s 2022 research with college students validates that email use has declined). Purposes include utility (sharing, asking for help), immediacy, and emotional connections. Relationship quality appears to be positive, as demonstrated by emerging adults’ reports of satisfaction, feelings of intimacy, and the number of types of media used for communication.

As an example, Vaterlaus et al. (2019), surveyed 766 young adults and adolescents (just over 10% of the sample) Young adults’ reports of using computer-mediated communication with parents (particularly text messaging when it came to both mothers and fathers) were significantly associated with feelings of closeness, togetherness, and connection in their time spent with the parent. and their parents on their use of technology together and on the notions of quantity and quality time spent. Not surprisingly (given that the young adults were away and in college), teens reported spending more time with their parents. Among the whole sample, there was a clear perceptual difference between quantity time and quality time. Young adults still sought and identified having quality time with parents. Type of media was differentiated when considering connectivity: synchronous media such as telephone calls, video chat, and texting facilitated quality interactions; fewer young adults reported using email, social networking, and texting for quality interactions. And young adults’ reports of using computer-mediated communication with parents (particularly text messaging when it came to both mothers and fathers) were significantly associated with feelings of closeness, togetherness, and connection in their time spent with the parent. The authors observe the role that technology can play in maintaining quality relationships between parents and teens, and acknowledge the challenges brought about through an individual being distracted by media when in the presence of the other. They recommend additional research and educational efforts on the benefits of using technology together in ways that foster and facilitate relationships.

Yet Hessel and Dworkin indicate that a dominant theme in the literature indicates potential challenges with autonomy, or rather the lack thereof. Frequency of contact with parents and parental over-involvement related to lower feelings of autonomy, whereas those with a strong parent-child relationship reported higher levels of autonomy. They also observe that, as noted in Chapter 5, there are differences by generational cohort, as research with college students just two years apart indicates differences in email and social networking behavior with parents.

essay on technology and relationships

McCurdy et al. (2022) also point to differences in communication behavior and perceived young adult/parent relationships. In interviews with 44 college students, those who used a rich communication repertoire for connection with their parents reported more closeness. Citing media multiplexity theory, the authors identified that students perceived stronger relationships due to multiple technologies affording more contact frequency, more ways to make connection, and a stronger parental social presence. Interestingly, young adults also were strategic about differentials in technology competence and access by their parents to maintain boundaries. Knowing what skills their parents had, and which applications they did and didn’t use, worked to their advantage as ways to find necessary separation for their individuation. From Miller-Ott et al.’s (2014) research, frequent texting, establishing rules around availability, repetitive contact, and relational arguments were more direct strategies for healthy individuation with connectedness.

Research also suggests new opportunities for connecting with parents: gaming, social media, video creation, even family genealogy applications. Given the range of potential technologies for interaction and differentials in access and use together, Hessel and Dworkin (2018, p. 369) wisely observe,

Rather than building research around specific technology, such as Facebook, categorizing technology options by context will produce findings that are more transferable and durable. Using theoretical foundations such as Media Richness Theory may help to identify which technology choices complement which types of communication between which family members for what purpose.

This chapter reveals complexities in the notion of the parent-child relationship and technology. Most families don’t perceive conflict, though when the focus of research, perception may be skewed depending on who is being interviewed. Positively, many children and parents manage negotiations around children’s healthy technology use, and parents practice active or other types of mediation that encourage children’s positive use. many children and parents constructively negotiate healthy technology use, and parents practice active or other types of mediation that are encouraging and maintain trust and communication in the relationship  There isn’t a need for practices that are restrictive or punitive. Active mediation strategies align with a life-course model of relationships and developmental growth that balances a respect for each individual’s ability for agency and for the communion of the relationship.

The chapter also examined the many factors that can influence the ways parents’ mediate, which can contribute to conflict or to the lack thereof. Key within these is the generational difference in parents’ own knowledge and use of technology. When children grow up knowing more, and “reverse mediation” occurs, the power dynamic can shift. In some homes, this can be sensitive. The dynamic shifts as well when parents’ technology use leads to their being distracted from their children. This sends a strong non-verbal message about the importance of the relationship, and can have damaging effects on parenting, on the relationship, and consequently on child development. As technology continues to evolve, and as generations of children and parents change in their knowledge, skills, comfort, and expectations about using technology individually and with each other, the clear message for both parents and children is one of intentionality.

As technology continues to evolve, and as generations of children and parents change in their knowledge, skills, comfort, and expectations about using technology individually and with each other, the clear message for both parents and children is one of intentionality. Shin et al. (2021) advocate for a life-course perspective in the future design of technology to promote the parent-child relationship:

Technology design that supports relationships must be responsive to the dynamic environment and transactional nature of relationships; accordingly, designers should be aware of technology’s role, and find ways to provide users with timely suggestions. The family life course development approach provides a theoretical lens by which design can incorporate a family’s transactional nature. The theory’s central assumption is that the family’s developmental process is inevitable, and that individuals’ lives change dynamically over time. It further explains how the lives of individual family members, such as parents and children, are interconnected, and how families transmit their assets and disadvantages to the next generation. [p.441:22]

For parents, technology visionary and parent danah boyd suggests approaching technology with an attitude of flexibility (Tippet, 2017):

From my perspective, it’s about stepping back and not assuming that just the technology is transformative, and saying, okay, what are we trying to achieve here? What does balance look like? What does happiness look like? What does success look like? What are these core tenets or values that we’re aiming for, and how do we achieve them holistically across our lives? And certainly, when parents are navigating this, I think one of the difficulties is to recognize that this is what your values are, and they may be different from your child’s values. And so how do you learn to sit and have a conversation of “Here’s what I want for you. What do you want? And how do we balance that?” And that’s that negotiation that’s really hard. And so I think about it in terms of all of us — how do you find your own sense of grounding?
  • The volume of research on parenting styles should motivate readers interested in this concept and in parent-child relationships and technology to seek out specific, current, and cross-cultural/cultural literature. ↵

Critical Perspectives on Technology and the Family Copyright © 2022 by Susan K. Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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  • Essay on Communication

Effect Of Technology On Relationships Essay Examples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Communication , Technology , Relationships , Internet , Virtualization , Betrayal , Human , Business

Published: 02/12/2020



It is fallacious to argue that technology has effect on human relationships. The fact of the matter is that technology affects human relationships in different ways, some negative and others positive. I posit that the effect that technology has on ones relationship depends on the manner in which one use technological devices.

The internet has both positive and negative effects on relationships. Internet infidelity is one area of concern for hordes of people, particularly its effect on existing relationships. Compared to other forms of infidelity, internet infidelity is easier to hide and proliferate. This is because of the asynchronous nature of communication by e-mail. Through the internet, a disfranchised partner can seek gratification from outside their relationship while still being discrete. Studies have found that internet infidelity is eroding the intimacy in face-to-face relationships. Through such studies, it has been found that for people engaged in internet relationships, their level of self-disclosure is higher with the virtual partner when compared to the face-to-face partner. On a positive note, the internet has changed the human approach towards relationships. The internet is a ubiquitous forced in people’s daily lives. This is because it has helped increase the frequency and quality of interaction between partners and friends. The internet has also improved the manner in which people connect with others in different social worlds. The internet unifies the speed provided by telephony services with the written characters characteristic of mail services. The invention of virtual presence through the internet allows partners and friends who are separated by geographical zones to mimic a face-to-face relationship. This is through video conferencing and using services like video chatting. As such, relationships that would have fizzled because of geographical distances are given a new lease of life through virtual presence. Online communication is different from face-to-face communication. Unlike face-to-face communication, online communication more often than not bypasses universal social norms. The cloak of anonymity that enshrouds online communication makes people feel freer to express their views. Additionally, in online communication, people respond to the intellect of an individual than the appearance or social standing. Unlike online communication, face-to-face communication is animated by gestures, facial expressions, tonal variation and other non-verbal communication cues. These non-verbal communication cues are very important because the art of communication does not only involve the words, but also non-verbal cues. To meet this deficit in the online communication realms, programmers have come up with different animations of non-verbal cues. However, I think that these are not as effective as the natural non-verbal cues that we exude when communication face-to-face.

It is debatable whether online communication is better than face-to-face communication. But even within such a debate, the fact is that technology and more specifically the internet, has an impact on human relationships.


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  • Technology Essay


Essay on Technology

The word "technology" and its uses have immensely changed since the 20th century, and with time, it has continued to evolve ever since. We are living in a world driven by technology. The advancement of technology has played an important role in the development of human civilization, along with cultural changes. Technology provides innovative ways of doing work through various smart and innovative means. 

Electronic appliances, gadgets, faster modes of communication, and transport have added to the comfort factor in our lives. It has helped in improving the productivity of individuals and different business enterprises. Technology has brought a revolution in many operational fields. It has undoubtedly made a very important contribution to the progress that mankind has made over the years.

The Advancement of Technology:

Technology has reduced the effort and time and increased the efficiency of the production requirements in every field. It has made our lives easy, comfortable, healthy, and enjoyable. It has brought a revolution in transport and communication. The advancement of technology, along with science, has helped us to become self-reliant in all spheres of life. With the innovation of a particular technology, it becomes part of society and integral to human lives after a point in time.

Technology is Our Part of Life:

Technology has changed our day-to-day lives. Technology has brought the world closer and better connected. Those days have passed when only the rich could afford such luxuries. Because of the rise of globalisation and liberalisation, all luxuries are now within the reach of the average person. Today, an average middle-class family can afford a mobile phone, a television, a washing machine, a refrigerator, a computer, the Internet, etc. At the touch of a switch, a man can witness any event that is happening in far-off places.  

Benefits of Technology in All Fields: 

We cannot escape technology; it has improved the quality of life and brought about revolutions in various fields of modern-day society, be it communication, transportation, education, healthcare, and many more. Let us learn about it.

Technology in Communication:

With the advent of technology in communication, which includes telephones, fax machines, cellular phones, the Internet, multimedia, and email, communication has become much faster and easier. It has transformed and influenced relationships in many ways. We no longer need to rely on sending physical letters and waiting for several days for a response. Technology has made communication so simple that you can connect with anyone from anywhere by calling them via mobile phone or messaging them using different messaging apps that are easy to download.

Innovation in communication technology has had an immense influence on social life. Human socialising has become easier by using social networking sites, dating, and even matrimonial services available on mobile applications and websites.

Today, the Internet is used for shopping, paying utility bills, credit card bills, admission fees, e-commerce, and online banking. In the world of marketing, many companies are marketing and selling their products and creating brands over the internet. 

In the field of travel, cities, towns, states, and countries are using the web to post detailed tourist and event information. Travellers across the globe can easily find information on tourism, sightseeing, places to stay, weather, maps, timings for events, transportation schedules, and buy tickets to various tourist spots and destinations.

Technology in the Office or Workplace:

Technology has increased efficiency and flexibility in the workspace. Technology has made it easy to work remotely, which has increased the productivity of the employees. External and internal communication has become faster through emails and apps. Automation has saved time, and there is also a reduction in redundancy in tasks. Robots are now being used to manufacture products that consistently deliver the same product without defect until the robot itself fails. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology are innovations that are being deployed across industries to reap benefits.

Technology has wiped out the manual way of storing files. Now files are stored in the cloud, which can be accessed at any time and from anywhere. With technology, companies can make quick decisions, act faster towards solutions, and remain adaptable. Technology has optimised the usage of resources and connected businesses worldwide. For example, if the customer is based in America, he can have the services delivered from India. They can communicate with each other in an instant. Every company uses business technology like virtual meeting tools, corporate social networks, tablets, and smart customer relationship management applications that accelerate the fast movement of data and information.

Technology in Education:

Technology is making the education industry improve over time. With technology, students and parents have a variety of learning tools at their fingertips. Teachers can coordinate with classrooms across the world and share their ideas and resources online. Students can get immediate access to an abundance of good information on the Internet. Teachers and students can access plenty of resources available on the web and utilise them for their project work, research, etc. Online learning has changed our perception of education. 

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a paradigm shift using technology where school-going kids continued their studies from home and schools facilitated imparting education by their teachers online from home. Students have learned and used 21st-century skills and tools, like virtual classrooms, AR (Augmented Reality), robots, etc. All these have increased communication and collaboration significantly. 

Technology in Banking:

Technology and banking are now inseparable. Technology has boosted digital transformation in how the banking industry works and has vastly improved banking services for their customers across the globe.

Technology has made banking operations very sophisticated and has reduced errors to almost nil, which were somewhat prevalent with manual human activities. Banks are adopting Artificial Intelligence (AI) to increase their efficiency and profits. With the emergence of Internet banking, self-service tools have replaced the traditional methods of banking. 

You can now access your money, handle transactions like paying bills, money transfers, and online purchases from merchants, and monitor your bank statements anytime and from anywhere in the world. Technology has made banking more secure and safe. You do not need to carry cash in your pocket or wallet; the payments can be made digitally using e-wallets. Mobile banking, banking apps, and cybersecurity are changing the face of the banking industry.

Manufacturing and Production Industry Automation:

At present, manufacturing industries are using all the latest technologies, ranging from big data analytics to artificial intelligence. Big data, ARVR (Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality), and IoT (Internet of Things) are the biggest manufacturing industry players. Automation has increased the level of productivity in various fields. It has reduced labour costs, increased efficiency, and reduced the cost of production.

For example, 3D printing is used to design and develop prototypes in the automobile industry. Repetitive work is being done easily with the help of robots without any waste of time. This has also reduced the cost of the products. 

Technology in the Healthcare Industry:

Technological advancements in the healthcare industry have not only improved our personal quality of life and longevity; they have also improved the lives of many medical professionals and students who are training to become medical experts. It has allowed much faster access to the medical records of each patient. 

The Internet has drastically transformed patients' and doctors’ relationships. Everyone can stay up to date on the latest medical discoveries, share treatment information, and offer one another support when dealing with medical issues. Modern technology has allowed us to contact doctors from the comfort of our homes. There are many sites and apps through which we can contact doctors and get medical help. 

Breakthrough innovations in surgery, artificial organs, brain implants, and networked sensors are examples of transformative developments in the healthcare industry. Hospitals use different tools and applications to perform their administrative tasks, using digital marketing to promote their services.

Technology in Agriculture:

Today, farmers work very differently than they would have decades ago. Data analytics and robotics have built a productive food system. Digital innovations are being used for plant breeding and harvesting equipment. Software and mobile devices are helping farmers harvest better. With various data and information available to farmers, they can make better-informed decisions, for example, tracking the amount of carbon stored in soil and helping with climate change.

Disadvantages of Technology:

People have become dependent on various gadgets and machines, resulting in a lack of physical activity and tempting people to lead an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Even though technology has increased the productivity of individuals, organisations, and the nation, it has not increased the efficiency of machines. Machines cannot plan and think beyond the instructions that are fed into their system. Technology alone is not enough for progress and prosperity. Management is required, and management is a human act. Technology is largely dependent on human intervention. 

Computers and smartphones have led to an increase in social isolation. Young children are spending more time surfing the internet, playing games, and ignoring their real lives. Usage of technology is also resulting in job losses and distracting students from learning. Technology has been a reason for the production of weapons of destruction.

Dependency on technology is also increasing privacy concerns and cyber crimes, giving way to hackers.


FAQs on Technology Essay

1. What is technology?

Technology refers to innovative ways of doing work through various smart means. The advancement of technology has played an important role in the development of human civilization. It has helped in improving the productivity of individuals and businesses.

2. How has technology changed the face of banking?

Technology has made banking operations very sophisticated. With the emergence of Internet banking, self-service tools have replaced the traditional methods of banking. You can now access your money, handle transactions, and monitor your bank statements anytime and from anywhere in the world. Technology has made banking more secure and safe.

3. How has technology brought a revolution in the medical field?

Patients and doctors keep each other up to date on the most recent medical discoveries, share treatment information, and offer each other support when dealing with medical issues. It has allowed much faster access to the medical records of each patient. Modern technology has allowed us to contact doctors from the comfort of our homes. There are many websites and mobile apps through which we can contact doctors and get medical help.

4. Are we dependent on technology?

Yes, today, we are becoming increasingly dependent on technology. Computers, smartphones, and modern technology have helped humanity achieve success and progress. However, in hindsight, people need to continuously build a healthy lifestyle, sorting out personal problems that arise due to technological advancements in different aspects of human life.

Feb 13, 2023

200-500 Word Example Essays about Technology

Got an essay assignment about technology check out these examples to inspire you.

Technology is a rapidly evolving field that has completely changed the way we live, work, and interact with one another. Technology has profoundly impacted our daily lives, from how we communicate with friends and family to how we access information and complete tasks. As a result, it's no surprise that technology is a popular topic for students writing essays.

But writing a technology essay can be challenging, especially for those needing more time or help with writer's block. This is where comes in. is an innovative AI tool explicitly designed for students who need help writing essays. With, students can quickly and easily generate essays on various topics, including technology.

This blog post aims to provide readers with various example essays on technology, all generated by These essays will be a valuable resource for students looking for inspiration or guidance as they work on their essays. By reading through these example essays, students can better understand how technology can be approached and discussed in an essay.

Moreover, by signing up for a free trial with, students can take advantage of this innovative tool and receive even more support as they work on their essays. is designed to help students write essays faster and more efficiently, so they can focus on what truly matters – learning and growing as a student. Whether you're a student who is struggling with writer's block or simply looking for a convenient way to generate essays on a wide range of topics, is the perfect solution.

The Impact of Technology on Society and Culture


Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives and has dramatically impacted how we interact, communicate, and carry out various activities. Technological advancements have brought positive and negative changes to society and culture. In this article, we will explore the impact of technology on society and culture and how it has influenced different aspects of our lives.

Positive impact on communication:

Technology has dramatically improved communication and made it easier for people to connect from anywhere in the world. Social media platforms, instant messaging, and video conferencing have brought people closer, bridging geographical distances and cultural differences. This has made it easier for people to share information, exchange ideas, and collaborate on projects.

Positive impact on education:

Students and instructors now have access to a multitude of knowledge and resources because of the effect of technology on education . Students may now study at their speed and from any location thanks to online learning platforms, educational applications, and digital textbooks.

Negative impact on critical thinking and creativity:

Technological advancements have resulted in a reduction in critical thinking and creativity. With so much information at our fingertips, individuals have become more passive in their learning, relying on the internet for solutions rather than logic and inventiveness. As a result, independent thinking and problem-solving abilities have declined.

Positive impact on entertainment:

Technology has transformed how we access and consume entertainment. People may now access a wide range of entertainment alternatives from the comfort of their own homes thanks to streaming services, gaming platforms, and online content makers. The entertainment business has entered a new age of creativity and invention as a result of this.

Negative impact on attention span:

However, the continual bombardment of information and technological stimulation has also reduced attention span and the capacity to focus. People are easily distracted and need help focusing on a single activity for a long time. This has hampered productivity and the ability to accomplish duties.

The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning

The development of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies has been one of the most significant technological developments of the past several decades. These cutting-edge technologies have the potential to alter several sectors of society, including commerce, industry, healthcare, and entertainment. 

As with any new and quickly advancing technology, AI and ML ethics must be carefully studied. The usage of these technologies presents significant concerns around privacy, accountability, and command. As the use of AI and ML grows more ubiquitous, we must assess their possible influence on society and investigate the ethical issues that must be taken into account as these technologies continue to develop.

What are Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning?

Artificial Intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence in machines designed to think and act like humans. Machine learning is a subfield of AI that enables computers to learn from data and improve their performance over time without being explicitly programmed.

The impact of AI and ML on Society

The use of AI and ML in various industries, such as healthcare, finance, and retail, has brought many benefits. For example, AI-powered medical diagnosis systems can identify diseases faster and more accurately than human doctors. However, there are also concerns about job displacement and the potential for AI to perpetuate societal biases.

The Ethical Considerations of AI and ML

A. Bias in AI algorithms

One of the critical ethical concerns about AI and ML is the potential for algorithms to perpetuate existing biases. This can occur if the data used to train these algorithms reflects the preferences of the people who created it. As a result, AI systems can perpetuate these biases and discriminate against certain groups of people.

B. Responsibility for AI-generated decisions

Another ethical concern is the responsibility for decisions made by AI systems. For example, who is responsible for the damage if a self-driving car causes an accident? The manufacturer of the vehicle, the software developer, or the AI algorithm itself?

C. The potential for misuse of AI and ML

AI and ML can also be used for malicious purposes, such as cyberattacks and misinformation. The need for more regulation and oversight in developing and using these technologies makes it difficult to prevent misuse.

The developments in AI and ML have given numerous benefits to humanity, but they also present significant ethical concerns that must be addressed. We must assess the repercussions of new technologies on society, implement methods to limit the associated dangers, and guarantee that they are utilized for the greater good. As AI and ML continue to play an ever-increasing role in our daily lives, we must engage in an open and frank discussion regarding their ethics.

The Future of Work And Automation

Rapid technological breakthroughs in recent years have brought about considerable changes in our way of life and work. Concerns regarding the influence of artificial intelligence and machine learning on the future of work and employment have increased alongside the development of these technologies. This article will examine the possible advantages and disadvantages of automation and its influence on the labor market, employees, and the economy.

The Advantages of Automation

Automation in the workplace offers various benefits, including higher efficiency and production, fewer mistakes, and enhanced precision. Automated processes may accomplish repetitive jobs quickly and precisely, allowing employees to concentrate on more complex and creative activities. Additionally, automation may save organizations money since it removes the need to pay for labor and minimizes the danger of workplace accidents.

The Potential Disadvantages of Automation

However, automation has significant disadvantages, including job loss and income stagnation. As robots and computers replace human labor in particular industries, there is a danger that many workers may lose their jobs, resulting in higher unemployment and more significant economic disparity. Moreover, if automation is not adequately regulated and managed, it might lead to stagnant wages and a deterioration in employees' standard of life.

The Future of Work and Automation

Despite these difficulties, automation will likely influence how labor is done. As a result, firms, employees, and governments must take early measures to solve possible issues and reap the rewards of automation. This might entail funding worker retraining programs, enhancing education and skill development, and implementing regulations that support equality and justice at work.

IV. The Need for Ethical Considerations

We must consider the ethical ramifications of automation and its effects on society as technology develops. The impact on employees and their rights, possible hazards to privacy and security, and the duty of corporations and governments to ensure that automation is utilized responsibly and ethically are all factors to be taken into account.


To summarise, the future of employment and automation will most certainly be defined by a complex interaction of technological advances, economic trends, and cultural ideals. All stakeholders must work together to handle the problems and possibilities presented by automation and ensure that technology is employed to benefit society as a whole.

The Role of Technology in Education


Nearly every part of our lives has been transformed by technology, and education is no different. Today's students have greater access to knowledge, opportunities, and resources than ever before, and technology is becoming a more significant part of their educational experience. Technology is transforming how we think about education and creating new opportunities for learners of all ages, from online courses and virtual classrooms to instructional applications and augmented reality.

Technology's Benefits for Education

The capacity to tailor learning is one of technology's most significant benefits in education. Students may customize their education to meet their unique needs and interests since they can access online information and tools. 

For instance, people can enroll in online classes on topics they are interested in, get tailored feedback on their work, and engage in virtual discussions with peers and subject matter experts worldwide. As a result, pupils are better able to acquire and develop the abilities and information necessary for success.

Challenges and Concerns

Despite the numerous advantages of technology in education, there are also obstacles and considerations to consider. One issue is the growing reliance on technology and the possibility that pupils would become overly dependent on it. This might result in a lack of critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, as students may become passive learners who only follow instructions and rely on technology to complete their assignments.

Another obstacle is the digital divide between those who have access to technology and those who do not. This division can exacerbate the achievement gap between pupils and produce uneven educational and professional growth chances. To reduce these consequences, all students must have access to the technology and resources necessary for success.

In conclusion, technology is rapidly becoming an integral part of the classroom experience and has the potential to alter the way we learn radically. 

Technology can help students flourish and realize their full potential by giving them access to individualized instruction, tools, and opportunities. While the benefits of technology in the classroom are undeniable, it's crucial to be mindful of the risks and take precautions to guarantee that all kids have access to the tools they need to thrive.

The Influence of Technology On Personal Relationships And Communication 

Technological advancements have profoundly altered how individuals connect and exchange information. It has changed the world in many ways in only a few decades. Because of the rise of the internet and various social media sites, maintaining relationships with people from all walks of life is now simpler than ever. 

However, concerns about how these developments may affect interpersonal connections and dialogue are inevitable in an era of rapid technological growth. In this piece, we'll discuss how the prevalence of digital media has altered our interpersonal connections and the language we use to express ourselves.

Direct Effect on Direct Interaction:

The disruption of face-to-face communication is a particularly stark example of how technology has impacted human connections. The quality of interpersonal connections has suffered due to people's growing preference for digital over human communication. Technology has been demonstrated to reduce the usage of nonverbal signs such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and other indicators of emotional investment in the connection.

Positive Impact on Long-Distance Relationships:

Yet there are positives to be found as well. Long-distance relationships have also benefited from technological advancements. The development of technologies such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and social media has made it possible for individuals to keep in touch with distant loved ones. It has become simpler for individuals to stay in touch and feel connected despite geographical distance.

The Effects of Social Media on Personal Connections:

The widespread use of social media has had far-reaching consequences, especially on the quality of interpersonal interactions. Social media has positive and harmful effects on relationships since it allows people to keep in touch and share life's milestones.

Unfortunately, social media has made it all too easy to compare oneself to others, which may lead to emotions of jealousy and a general decline in confidence. Furthermore, social media might cause people to have inflated expectations of themselves and their relationships.

A Personal Perspective on the Intersection of Technology and Romance

Technological advancements have also altered physical touch and closeness. Virtual reality and other technologies have allowed people to feel physical contact and familiarity in a digital setting. This might be a promising breakthrough, but it has some potential downsides. 

Experts are concerned that people's growing dependence on technology for intimacy may lead to less time spent communicating face-to-face and less emphasis on physical contact, both of which are important for maintaining good relationships.

In conclusion, technological advancements have significantly affected the quality of interpersonal connections and the exchange of information. Even though technology has made it simpler to maintain personal relationships, it has chilled interpersonal interactions between people. 

Keeping tabs on how technology is changing our lives and making adjustments as necessary is essential as we move forward. Boundaries and prioritizing in-person conversation and physical touch in close relationships may help reduce the harm it causes.

The Security and Privacy Implications of Increased Technology Use and Data Collection

The fast development of technology over the past few decades has made its way into every aspect of our life. Technology has improved many facets of our life, from communication to commerce. However, significant privacy and security problems have emerged due to the broad adoption of technology. In this essay, we'll look at how the widespread use of technological solutions and the subsequent explosion in collected data affects our right to privacy and security.

Data Mining and Privacy Concerns

Risk of Cyber Attacks and Data Loss

The Widespread Use of Encryption and Other Safety Mechanisms

The Privacy and Security of the Future in a Globalized Information Age

Obtaining and Using Individual Information

The acquisition and use of private information is a significant cause for privacy alarm in the digital age. Data about their customers' online habits, interests, and personal information is a valuable commodity for many internet firms. Besides tailored advertising, this information may be used for other, less desirable things like identity theft or cyber assaults.

Moreover, many individuals need to be made aware of what data is being gathered from them or how it is being utilized because of the lack of transparency around gathering personal information. Privacy and data security have become increasingly contentious as a result.

Data breaches and other forms of cyber-attack pose a severe risk.

The risk of cyber assaults and data breaches is another big issue of worry. More people are using more devices, which means more opportunities for cybercriminals to steal private information like credit card numbers and other identifying data. This may cause monetary damages and harm one's reputation or identity.

Many high-profile data breaches have occurred in recent years, exposing the personal information of millions of individuals and raising serious concerns about the safety of this information. Companies and governments have responded to this problem by adopting new security methods like encryption and multi-factor authentication.

Many businesses now use encryption and other security measures to protect themselves from cybercriminals and data thieves. Encryption keeps sensitive information hidden by encoding it so that only those possessing the corresponding key can decipher it. This prevents private information like bank account numbers or social security numbers from falling into the wrong hands.

Firewalls, virus scanners, and two-factor authentication are all additional security precautions that may be used with encryption. While these safeguards do much to stave against cyber assaults, they are not entirely impregnable, and data breaches are still possible.

The Future of Privacy and Security in a Technologically Advanced World

There's little doubt that concerns about privacy and security will persist even as technology improves. There must be strict safeguards to secure people's private information as more and more of it is transferred and kept digitally. To achieve this goal, it may be necessary to implement novel technologies and heightened levels of protection and to revise the rules and regulations regulating the collection and storage of private information.

Individuals and businesses are understandably concerned about the security and privacy consequences of widespread technological use and data collecting. There are numerous obstacles to overcome in a society where technology plays an increasingly important role, from acquiring and using personal data to the risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches. Companies and governments must keep spending money on security measures and working to educate people about the significance of privacy and security if personal data is to remain safe.

In conclusion, technology has profoundly impacted virtually every aspect of our lives, including society and culture, ethics, work, education, personal relationships, and security and privacy. The rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning has presented new ethical considerations, while automation is transforming the future of work. 

In education, technology has revolutionized the way we learn and access information. At the same time, our dependence on technology has brought new challenges in terms of personal relationships, communication, security, and privacy. is an AI tool that can help students write essays easily and quickly. Whether you're looking, for example, for essays on any of these topics or are seeking assistance in writing your essay, offers a convenient solution. Sign up for a free trial today and experience the benefits of AI-powered writing assistance for yourself.

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Essay on Relationship Between Science And Technology

Students are often asked to write an essay on Relationship Between Science And Technology in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Relationship Between Science And Technology


Science and technology are two closely related aspects of human life. They work together to improve our quality of life. Science, in simple terms, is the study of the natural world, while technology involves applying this knowledge to create useful things.

The Role of Science

Science is like a key that unlocks nature’s secrets. Scientists do experiments to understand how things work. They observe, ask questions, and find answers. This process helps us learn about the universe, from the smallest particles to the vastness of space.

The Role of Technology

Technology takes the knowledge we gain from science and uses it to create tools that solve problems or make tasks easier. For example, the understanding of electricity led to the invention of light bulbs and computers. Technology brings science into our daily lives.

The Interdependence

Science and technology depend on each other. Without science, we wouldn’t have the knowledge to build technologies. And without technology, scientists couldn’t perform complex experiments or gather accurate data. They work together, helping us progress.

In conclusion, science and technology are like two sides of the same coin. They both contribute to our understanding of the world and improve our lives. Their relationship is vital for human advancement and will continue to shape our future.

250 Words Essay on Relationship Between Science And Technology

Understanding science and technology.

Science and technology are two words we often hear together. But what are they? Science is the study of the world around us. It helps us understand how things work. Technology, on the other hand, is the application of this knowledge to create tools that make our lives easier.

The Link Between Science and Technology

Science and technology are like best friends. They work together and help each other out. Without science, technology wouldn’t exist. And without technology, we wouldn’t be able to explore science as deeply as we do. For example, science helps us understand the laws of nature, and technology uses this knowledge to build things like cars, computers, and satellites.

How Science Fuels Technology

Science is like the fuel for technology. It provides the knowledge and theories that technology needs to grow. For instance, understanding electricity led to the invention of many gadgets like the television, mobile phones, and electric cars.

Technology’s Role in Advancing Science

Just as science fuels technology, technology also helps science advance. It provides tools that scientists use to explore the world. For example, microscopes allow us to see tiny things, telescopes let us look at distant stars, and computers help us store and analyze data.

In conclusion, science and technology are closely linked. They depend on each other to grow and advance. By understanding this relationship, we can appreciate how they work together to improve our lives.

Word Count: 250

500 Words Essay on Relationship Between Science And Technology

Science and technology are two words that we often hear together. But what do they mean, and how are they linked? Science is all about understanding the world around us. It’s about asking questions and finding answers. Technology, on the other hand, uses that knowledge to solve problems or create new things. Both are important and they often work together.

Science is like a tool that helps us understand how things work. It’s about exploring, asking questions, and finding answers. Scientists use experiments and observations to learn about the world. For example, a scientist might wonder why apples fall from trees. This question led Sir Isaac Newton to discover the law of gravity.

Technology is all about using the knowledge gained from science to make our lives better. It is the practical application of science. For instance, once we understood gravity, we could use that knowledge to create things like airplanes and space shuttles. Technology doesn’t just mean gadgets and machines, it also includes methods and systems that solve problems or make tasks easier.

How They Work Together

Science and technology are like two sides of the same coin. They work together and help each other. Discoveries in science lead to new technologies. For example, the discovery of electricity led to the invention of electric lights, televisions, and computers.

At the same time, technology helps science too. New technologies can help scientists do their work better and faster. For example, telescopes help astronomers study stars and planets that are far away. Microscopes let biologists see tiny things like cells and bacteria.

Impact on Society

Science and technology have a big impact on our lives. They have changed the way we live, work, and play. Thanks to science, we understand how diseases spread and can create medicines to cure them. Technology has given us things like the internet, mobile phones, and cars. These things have made our lives easier and more comfortable.

In conclusion, science and technology are closely linked. They help each other and work together to improve our understanding of the world and make our lives better. It’s like a cycle – science leads to new technologies, and those technologies help us make more discoveries in science. So, the relationship between science and technology is a key part of how we learn and grow as a society.

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