The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

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Social (Media) Skills?

Note: A picture that was included with this story when it was originally posted has been removed.

Ever since social media became popular, people have pondered its impact on young people’s communication skills.  Although these sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are used for communicating, they could actually be hurting the social skills of children.  Social media can take away a child’s ability to engage in face-to-face interactions, thus causing them to be socially awkward.

Nowadays, young kids are receiving cell phones pretty early in their childhood.  My baby cousin, who is only three years old, already has an iPad and knows how to unlock and play on iPhones. Thankfully, he is still a social kid, but later in life, his technological habits may come back to hurt him.  If he continues to use technology instead of personal interaction, he could grow up to be antisocial.

Social media hurts communication skills because children are not practicing face-to- face interactions.  Also, when children are used to talking to people through a cell phone, they could be intimidated by real conversations.  This could lead to poor public speaking skills and poor job interviews.

According to Facebook, the site now has more than 1.3 billion monthly users, and 7.5 million of them are children under the age of 13!  Twitter has more than 600 million users, and Instagram has more than 150 million users, according to techcrunch.com.  Because social media hurts children’s social skills, we may have an entire generation of socially awkward people.

According to a study conducted by the website Badoo in 2012, 39% of Americans spend more time communicating via social media rather than face-to-face conversations.  Also, 20% of Americans prefer to communicate through text message or e-mail instead of personal interaction.  With these numbers on the rise, the next generation of children will use technology as their primary source of communication.

This fact is quite concerning due to the many downsides of technology.  For instance, when someone sends a text message, their tone could be misinterpreted and it could cause miscommunication.  While a person may try being sarcastic in a text, the person reading it could think it was meant to be serious.  Another disadvantage of technology is how people can lie much more easily.  When you cannot watch a person’s body language or eye contact, determining the truth of a statement is incredibly difficult.

Social media can also cause the habit of using abbreviations while speaking.  Many children and teenagers will say “OMG, LOL, ROFL,” and many other annoying phrases in their everyday speech.  This is caused by repetitive use of the abbreviations while texting and using various social media sites, and it makes the speaker of the abbreviations seem unintelligent and elementary.

With these complications being present in technology, the younger children will be put at a severe disadvantage, and they will not even realize it.  As they grow older and their brains develop, they will lose most of their communication skills and develop bad habits thanks to social media.  In a study conducted by Courtney Turnbull of Elon University, it was found that the quality of interpersonal conversation is decreasing due to social networking.  If the trend continues, no one will have the right social skills to have a normal conversation.

There could be certain advantages with social media, however. Sociology teacher and social media user Mr. Brian Voss thinks positively of social media.

“I think it actually helps [communication skills],” stated Mr. Voss.  “It gives you a chance to chat in a different method and practice social skills even when you’re not with people.  It can also open up the amount of people you can socialize with.”

With all of those facts in mind, these are a few tips for children and teenagers to practice in order to keep their social skills in tact while still being able to use social media occasionally:

1. Participate in Class.  Although this seems like a somewhat simple task, it helps your social skills tremendously.  If you have practice speaking in front of a large group of people, then face-to-face conversations, and even job interviews, will become much less scary.

2. Talk on the Phone Instead of Texting.  Again, this is a very easy task to practice, and it will cause you to be more alert to questions, and it will help you think on your feet.  When  you text someone, they have time to reply with a well thought-out response, but when you talk on the phone, the person must answer more quickly and give a more honest answer.

3.  Think Before you Post Something on Social Media.  If you use social media often, you may end up posting something offensive or inappropriate.  If you do this, other people can see it and have a different outlook on you.  Face-to-face interaction is better because you know exactly who is listening to you and there are fewer misunderstandings.

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Social (Media) Skills?