Solo & Small Firm

Tech Report: Face to Face Communication

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Tech Tips, Your AI In-House Editor
By Robert Klein, Los Angeles
A law practice devoted to helping personal injury victims.

I have been giving a lot of thought regarding what technology to share this month. I decided this month, May, the month with the fewest letters, is a good month to reflect on taking days away, or at least one day away, from technology.

Have you ever walked down a street and noticed how many people are looking at their phone, or talking on their phone, or simply listening to something on their phone? Or, how often have you walked into a bar or restaurant and seen a group of people “sitting together,” and at the same time, not talking to one another. Rather they are together, yet each is alone and focused on their cell phones. Yes, this is the current state of our society. People feel like they’re connected but studies show there is disconnect, and other logical neurological changes taking place, with so much screen time.

There is a negative to being so connected. It happens at work and it happens in our personal life. It creates a physiological change in our brains. A feeling of being isolated, or lonely which creates anxiety, depression and cognitive issues. At the meeting for Society of Neuroscience in November 2018, scientists reported that nerve endings in mice shrunk by 20% after being isolated for 30 days. Researchers at San Francisco State University associated the chemical changes in smart phone addiction as being similar to opioid dependency. Studies also show loneliness increases by replacing face-to-face interaction, and the value of simultaneous communication from body language.

A study by Korean scientists at Korea University in South Korea (using magnetic resonance spectroscopy) examined the immediate effect of brains and teenagers. The study found too much use was leading to increased depression, anxiety, insomnia and impulsivity. Another study from July 2017 by researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel discussed the impact to social cognition, attention, and reduced right pre-frontal cortex excitability. A UCLA study showed a link between use and a lack of sleep and weight gain issues.

There is true value in face to face communication. Words not only communicate, there is a strong understanding of how a person feels and reacts by watching body language and facial expressions. Neurotransmitters called endorphins are released when we smile. Endorphins are the chemistry that makes us feel happy, and less stressed.

A study from the BYU University Published in 2016 entitled, Technoconference, The Interference of Technology in Couple Relationships…, discussed how greater levels of smart phone use, computers and other technology devices were disruptive in relationships, couple-hood, and family lives. It showed an increase in depression and a lower satisfaction in one’s own life with too much use. Some suggestions for decreasing the impact include: being aware of the extent of use, talking, as a couple or a family, about and agreeing to the amount of cell phone use, along with defining expectations, and creating technology free zones.

Obviously we cannot pretend cell phones and other technology do not exist. It is essential for work and our day-to-day life. It makes us more efficient at work and more available to clients when needed. It also gives us access to much more information (e.g. how did I find the above referenced studies?) However, it is wise for us to create reasonable boundaries for computer and cell phone use. It is smart and healthy for us to know of how too much phone time can have a negative impact.

So the next time you walk down the street, stay off your phone and look at others. Smile and connect. You will feel much better when you notice the number of people who return a smile! Let’s make May a month where we agree with ourselves and our families to spend more face to face time and less screen time.

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