The Technology Takeover

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


The use of mobile electronic devices has grown in our society over the past decade, to the point where people use them as their main source to communicate with friends and family. At colleges and universities, you can see students using their laptops or cell phones to connect with other students instead of speaking to the people around them. My sociological study focuses on the question, “How does the use of technology affect the social interactions of college students?” To support my research, I looked at the way people handle their personal interactions, and, through the sociological literature using Lepp’s (2014) theory of cell phone dependency, how people cope with social anxiety that they may develop from overusing technology. Since this is a recent development in American society, my research will be useful for future studies on how technology affects social relationships among college students. I performed a quantitative study by designing surveys on technology use that were completed by students at a small liberal arts college in Southern California. I also conducted interviews with other students at the same college to further my understanding of the responses from the surveys. I found that students check their phones at every opportunity during the day, and they are on their laptops about four hours a day. A majority of the students in my study primarily use their cell phones to engage in social media, like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, while students typically use their laptops primarily for school assignments. Most of the students, though, actually prefer face-to-face conversations, even though some of them find themselves using technology to connect more than they would like. This contradictory result suggests that social ties are important to these students, but mobile technology may not be a satisfying way to maintain these connections.


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