With a mobile penetration rate of 151.4% and a wireless broadband penetration rate of 160.2% as at June 2012, it’s an understatement to say that technology is a big part of Singaporean life. In the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Information Technology Report 2012, Singapore ranked 2nd out of 142 countries, lagging behind only Sweden and led the pack in Asia when it came to networked readiness. Not only is there a startling increase in the use of smartphone and other technology, but the diverse user demographics highlight how pervasive technology is in our life. A recent online survey conducted by the Council for Third Age with 612 seniors aged 50 above highlighted how technology savvy the older generation has become.
That said, the increasing connectivity comes with its own sets of concerns. Amongst other concerns such as health risks due to radiation and an increasing loss of privacy, a more serious consequence brought up in discussions is that the current generation has a tendency to be socially stunted. Because of the plethora of social media platforms available, society has evolved into one which purports a different social experience with an increasing number of conversations taking place in the digital realm as opposed to face-to-face. This does naught to equip the new generation with the social skills required to hold a conversation and interact with other individuals.
A recent study done by Stanford and published by CNN showed that less face-to-face interaction led to the participants having a higher chance of developing social problems. I have personally seen many parents conveniently whipping out smartphones or iPads on MRT rides to entertain their children as opposed to taking the effort to engage them in conversations that could develop their cognitive and social skills further. As technology becomes even more entrenched in the Singapore society, we must bear in mind that while technology makes life faster and more efficient, cultivating quality relationships still requires a holistic approach – time, effort and face-to-face interaction.
Afterall, it’s often said that the human relationships are what makes one’s life all the more rich.