Photo credit (Garry Knight@Flikr)
Many Brits choose to text or instant message friends or family in the same room rather than have a conversation, according to the UK communications regulator.
Just over a quarter of UK adults (26%) said this happens at home, while around a third of teenagers (32%) have done so at school. The research from Ofcom also reveals that 40% of British adults felt they’d been ‘smart-snubbed’ at least once a week, which is when you’re ignored by somebody who is too engrossed in their smartphone.
Does it matter? Maybe not all the time and perhaps it might even be a good thing on occasion. But at risk of stating the obvious, conversations offer interactions that smartphones can’t offer. Talking and listening can be the engine of creativity and invention, and have the power to make you laugh and cry. Heck, they can even change minds and the world. Translate this to the work environment, and there is a risk of an over-reliance on email even when a colleague is sitting six feet away from you. A quick phone call could also resolve an issue much faster and reassure a client or person on the other end of the line, providing that touch and warmth that only a conversation can. Similarly, face-to-face meetings can give you a deeper understanding of issues.
The Ofcom research, outlined in its communications market report 2016, also reveals that one in three adult internet users (34%) have decided to get offline – and found it a positive experience. That’s equivalent to 15 million people, although some felt cut off (14%) or feared missing out (16%). There’s also evidence of holidaymakers going to places where there is no web access (16%) or even no internet or mobile phone coverage (9%) to get a digital detox. As good communications specialists know, it’s vital to use the full range of tools at our disposal, working with clients to understand their needs and problems, disseminating their key messages and engaging audiences. That absolutely includes online and social media. But as someone once said, it’s good to talk and here at Liquid that what’s we strive to do.