Social Skills: The Downfall

Is technology hindering the social skills of teens?

Technology & Social Skills:

As adolescents and children use technology more and more, parents begin to question how their children are interacting with others. There is no doubt teens text, social network, and email constantly, but how is all this technological interaction influencing their social skills? Simple social skills are needed to uphold everyday conversations, create a first impression in an interview, and are the first ways we introduce ourselves to others. If social skills are poor, it could be influencing us more than just not being able to hold a conversation. Teens spend many hours on technological devices and interacting with others in person is diminishing. With such interactions diminishing, teens are no longer receiving the simple practice that bolsters social interaction. In conjunction with these diminutions, teens choose these technological devices in lieu of face-to-face interaction. Because of this, social decline arises, and basic social skills that characterize people continue to fade. "'As children and parents are attaching more and more to technology, they're detaching from each other, and we know as a species we need to connect,' Rowan, [a pediatric therapist] said," and he finds that the lack of attachment between children and their parents goes against the basic interactions humans should have with each other (Bindley).

What social skills are being influenced?

A plethora of basic social skills are impaired by increased technological use. Such social skills that are hindered include:

Eye Contact: With more and more teens staring at a screen all day, the knowledge of staring people in the eyes when conversing has faded (Manke). Maintaining eye contact during a conversation is not only an important interviewing skill, but it also is a characteristic of an honest person.

Conversational Skill: When someone is conversing with another, they are required to reply immediately and appropriately. As teens use technology more, they are no longer adapted to this conversational environment. Instead, they are accustomed to an environment where they can answer when they feel like doing so through texting or commenting on social networking sites. Because they are not used to the quick repartee with others, teens are now unable to maintain even the simplest of conversations. Attention span is also a major aspect in physical conversing; however, it is also one of the least developed quality in teens. They are so used to the unlimited internet-access that they are easily bored with a normal conversation, and they choose to go on their devices instead (Manke).

Spatial Awareness: When trapped in their own technological world, teens find it hard to be aware of their own surroundings. Rather than paying attention to the things around them, teens focus solely on their devices. In doing so, they are put in danger of harmful events, embarrassing themselves, or in aggravating the people around them (Manke).

Self-regulation: Lastly, self-regulation has been on the decline. This regulation includes controlling "our own emotions and behavior" (Bindley). Despite being put into situations where social interaction is involved, teens cannot control themselves from constantly checking their phones or putting in headphones to drown out reality. Because of this, teens cannot control themselves behaviorally in keeping the technology away even for a short period of time.

Overall:

In the end, it is up to society to fix the diminishing social skills in upcoming generations. Teens have difficulties in interacting with others, and in fact, find conversing slightly threatening. "It is less threatening to text someone or send them a Facebook message," and there are more and more teens becoming intimidated by such an uncomplicated task (Jensen). By decreasing the amount of time spent on technological devices, we might be able to cease the decline in social skills and create gregarious, communicable children once again.