A recent conversation with a pastor friend of mine helped me to understand a trend taking place: there is an inverse relationship between the amount of technology usage and a given person’s ability to effectively communicate in face to face interactions.
This inverse correlation does not equate with cause and effect. However, there is a relationship of two factors: technology and communication, specifically face to face communication between two or more people.
From what I have experienced, people can become absorbed into their phones to the point they are not present, so to speak, in social interactions. Phones are not the only form of technology this applies to, but phones are the predominant device most people would carry around with them.
The absorption into what one is doing on their phone makes a sort of disconnect with physical reality. People may text, call, use a form of social networking and/or more things, but these social interactions with others are something other than face to face communication. It is digital communication, and digital communication does not increase the skills it takes to talk with a person when they are right in front of you.
I have seen this trend happen especially in youth. Youth are generally more submerged in being technologically savvy. They have phones and use social networking sites. However, their age is also a time to develop the skills of interacting with others face to face. When technology usage increases, there can be a decrease in interactions face to face with others.
Now, if this trend has truth and is growing in terms of its significance, what now?
There may be more than one solution, but a good start would be adults simply helping the youth of today develop their skills to socially interact with others face to face. Dinner at the table could be a no technology (ex: television, phone) time. If hanging out with friends is usually all video games, they can do more activities that involves talking without any use of electronics.
Technological advances are here to stay, so ridding ourselves of the technology itself will not solve the problem. The problem is the lack of a balance between the use of technology and real life interactions with others. Balance is key. Balance means engaging in both forms of communication, technology and face to face, and having strengths in both of these areas.
When people develop social skills, they thrive! Technology and its various mediums for communicating can take place in balance with interactions that are simply face to face.
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