Smartphones offer applications to help manage almost every aspect of life, leading to increased personal efficiency and communication. However, with this constant connection comes disconnection. The invention and rising popularity of the smartphone has completely transformed our culture of socialization and interaction. Ironically, while the smartphone enables us to engage in numerous conversations with many different people at once, it takes us out of the present moment, lowering the quality of real-life in-person interactions with others.
An Anthropologist using symbolic and interpretive anthropology would probably focus on the symbolic meaning of using an iPhone while having a conversation in context of the culture they are studying, in this case, the culture within the United States. In order to study the symbolic meaning, an anthropologist may chose to conduct a study of the meaning individuals place behind multitasking on an iPhone while engaging in a face-to-face conversation. One example of this is a naturalistic field experiment conducted by Virginia Tech in which 100 people were randomly assigned to discuss a topic of their choosing with someone else. The individuals were observed during the course of a 10- minute conversation, during which the anthropologist noted whether either person used a smartphone. The study showed that conversations in the absence of mobile technologies were significantly superior compared to those had in the presence of a mobile device, regardless of any other variable such as age, gender and mood. People who had conversations in the absence of smartphones reported higher levels of empathetic concern, while those whose partners used a phone said that their interaction seemed less friendly and more insincere.
An anthropologist using symbolic and interpretive anthropology could look at this study and say that while the smartphone is a material object, it holds significant meaning. They may conclude that in our culture using a smart phone during a conversation is a social custom, however its symbolic interpretation directly affects relationships on an individual level and thus slowly transforming the nature of socialization within the U.S.
Additionally, an anthropologist using culture and personality theory would look at how the prevalence of smartphones in our culture is causing a pattern in the behavior of individuals. In the U.S., 71% of Americans own smart phones. This number illustrates our cultures dependency and value regarding technology and media. A cultural personality anthropologist would look at how this value has affected learned behaviors of younger generations. In an article published by The Telegraph, correspondents reported that young people are seemingly more addicted to their smartphones than older generations. The article looked at a study that asked students to go without a smartphone or any other media for 24 hours and monitored their feelings. The results showed that 50 percent of students failed to go the full 24 hours and everyone in the study claimed to have suffered from a variety of symptoms such as feelings of anxiety, heart palpitations, and sensations of phantom limb.
Moving forward it is important to acknowledge that while useful, smartphones can also damage personal relationships and alter the way we interact as a society. As the phenomena for smartphones only continues to grow, it is safe to hypothesize that many of our cultures values will continue to change as our society becomes more dependent on technology.
 Is a citation of the article; “The iPhone Effect: The Quality of In-Person Social Interactions in the Presence of Mobile Devices.” Virginia Tech, Alexandria, USA
 Is a citation of the article “Are younger generations addicted to their phones?” by The Telegraph.uk: (study)”The World Unplugged project.” By Richard Alleyne