Is Technology the End of Social Communication Skills?

Is technology the end of social skills?

In today’s technological world, we, as human beings, are becoming less and less social in a non-technological way. Yes, we text and type and communicate via Facebook and through all sorts of social media contexts, BUT there is less and less face-to-face communication going on. We are seeing more and more people who are socially awkward, and have difficulty with basic communication skills.

I have the wonderful opportunity to work with people (young and old) on their social communication skills – it is one of my favorite things to do! I could spend hours talking about social communication! You would never know that there are so many little things that we don’t even realize happen when we communicate – many of them don’t even use words! 

Why do we turn to technology?

Often we panic when our children are being fussy or noisy we will automatically turn to technology to try and pacify them. We are out at dinner and want our children to be quiet so we plunk a video in front of them instead of engaging them in conversation. We lend our children our cellphones while at the grocery store to avoid the embarrassing outbursts of a child who wants the candy in the checkout isle.

What are we missing out on? 

This is all well and good as long as we are making up for the social communication at home! We need to make sure our children are being exposed to appropriate social behaviour in different situations throughout their lives – if not, they just won’t know what to do. We don’t realize it but our actions speak louder than words when it comes to social communication. It is also a case of monkey see monkey do: if I am on my phone and texting during dinner, so will my child or my spouse; if I start a conversation during dinner, my child and spouse will contribute. This video is fairly amusing at first, but think back to your last family meal time… was it anything like this?
Our older and young adult children are using technology to avoid having a conversation at the dinner table. What does this do? It deprives our children from learning basic communication skills. Why is it important to provide good social models for our children? Because we want them to know how to communicate appropriately and there are so many learning opportunities when it comes to social situations.
When we are not distracted by technology we can learn to enjoy what we are eating, learn about what we are eating and learn how to describe it in different ways. We can learn communication skills including body language, turn taking and humour (who hasn’t snorted milk out of their nose??!!). We can teach our children manners and build their confidence. We can teach them how to nourish their body and mind at the same time – all at a simple Sunday night dinner together without technological distractions.

It's About Balance 

I’m NOT saying get rid of technology all together, what I’m saying is… unplug a little! Take the time to have dinner together, without the distractions of technology, let your child cry it out in public, and SHOW your children how to behave. Be their role model, and guide – teach them how to be human!  We try and give our children everything we never had and the best of the best, but what is the most important message here? “Technology will never replace love”, we need to be human first.