How will digital media change our relationships?

A couple uses their smartphones on the streets of Maastricht September 15, 2012.

Half of us believe digital media has improved our social lives, according to a survey Image: REUTERS/Michael Kooren

Claudio Cocorocchia
Platform Curator, Shaping the Future of Media, Information and Entertainment, World Economic Forum Geneva
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According to a 2015 World Economic Forum survey of 5,000 digital media users of all demographics in China, the US, Brazil, Germany, and South Africa, one third believe they should reduce their digital media usage.

This is a piece of good news, because it shows that we are generally conscious of the influence that the increasing use of digital media is having on our lives.

“There’s nothing wrong with our devices but the way we are using them is hurting empathy, intimacy - and in the work place - significant collaboration and creativity” says Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT.

But many argue that their physical relationships have actually improved with digital media use. The same survey concluded that half of us believe digital media has improved our social lives.

The number of hours spent on social media continues to grow globally. According to GlobalWebIndex, in 2014, the average global user spent more than 6 hours online, compared to 5.5 hours in 2012; almost 2 hours were spent on social networking compared to just 1.5 in 2012.

At what point will the world reach its social media saturation point and what are the long-term impacts? Will humanity ever reject the convenience that digital media promises in our social interaction and relationship building and revert back to the physical?

You can view seven short videos about the societal implications of digital media and the impacts on various aspects of our lives:

Author: Claudio Cocorocchia, Content Lead, Media, Entertainment and Information Industries, and a Global Leadership Fellow

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