Human Communication in a Digital Age: Perspectives on Interpersonal Communication in the Family

Ijeoma Onyeator, Ngozi Okpara


With the evolution of the digital era characterized by human-computer interaction, there has been a marked difference in the manner in which humans communicate. This revolution in patterns of communication from face-to-face interpersonal contact to human-machine communication is enabled by the affordances of technology. Using the family unit in Nigeria as a case study, this study examines the changes in one-on-one communication among family members, as a result of constant engagement with digital technologies. It conceptualizes the family as a unit comprising two or more persons living together who are related by blood, marriage, adoption or social affiliation. The survey research design was adopted, and structured questionnaires were administered on 370 respondents in the 37 local council development areas of Lagos state, south west Nigeria. Findings indicate that most family members lose interest in communicating interpersonally with each other due to constant engagement with technologies. The study also finds that reduced cues and non-self-disclosure often pulls family members apart rather than bringing them close together. Key recommendations include that strong family relationships should transcend the mere acquisition of digital competencies, tools and technologies. It suggests that the attributes at the core of humanness should not be lost as a result of constant engagement with communication technologies.

Keywords: human communication, humanness, digital communication, communication devices, digital age.

DOI: 10.7176/NMMC/78-06

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