What is technology doing to our children’s social skills? - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

What is technology doing to our children’s social skills?

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Posted: Saturday, December 15, 2012 12:50 pm | Updated: 3:26 pm, Fri May 16, 2014.

Dear Mikey,

My son is a very smart kid. He has a 4.0 GPA, is on the honor roll, and has already been accepted to go to a very prestigious university next fall. I have no doubt in my mind that he is going places and will be very successful in life.

Something I have noticed, however, is that he is a bit of an introvert. Although he is very successful at school, he is not so successful with social skills. On a typical Friday night, instead of doing high school guy things, he is at home talking to people on social media sites like Facebook and/or he’s playing computer games.

We (his mother and I) have tried encouraging him to go out to eat with some of his fellow honor roll friends, but I think they are the ones on the other side of the computer screen, almost like they all think they “are hanging out” on a Friday night but on the computer.

Any ideas on how I can improve his social skills?

— Wanting my son to improve his social skills

Dear Wanting my son to improve his social skills,

In this day and age, as sad as it is for me to report this, technology is taking over people and interpersonal skills, especially among our teenagers. People are starting to forget how to be social.

When I was in high school (approximately 10 years ago now!) we used to write letters to one another (in between classes of course), hence how “Ask Mikey” got started. Now high-schoolers text/email each other or talk to each other via Facebook. Verbal and face-to-face communication is practically becoming non-existent. Teens see it as why go and talk to someone face-to-face when I can just contact them electronically while in my pajamas from the comfort of my room?

Technology is starting to replace everyone’s social skills and it seems to be getting worse. People are using technology too much to where they are even starting to forget their manners, grammar, and even how to spell. How can anyone blame them when they are constantly writing “Lol,” and “TTFN,” and “r u ok” instead of at least spelling out “Are you okay,” or better yet just asking someone face-to-face if they are OK?

It sounds like your son and possibly his friends have fallen into the technology trap that has been happening to millions of people worldwide since technology and social media have been booming especially over the past few years. And until technology trends slow down, or we all at least attempt to discipline ourselves to limit our time each day on technology, it might be hard to convince your son that he needs to “unplug” from technology devices and be more social. As a matter of fact, this is one of those decisions that he is going to have to make all on his own. Because of the fact that his generation automatically grew up in all of this technology, it will be even harder to get him to “unplug” than those that did not grow up with all of this technology because this is something he was born into. When we were in high school white boards and projectors were the most advanced learning tools in the classroom aside from chalkboards. Kids nowadays don’t even know what a chalkboard is because they have smartboards and touch screens, and a lot of the classwork is now done on computers and even iPads — not on paper like we all remember it.

The difference between all of us and kids nowadays is that we remember what life was like before iPads, Facebook, iPods, etc. — people were more social and personal. People actually handwrote thank you cards and birthday cards instead of emailing animated cards like they do now. It is much easier for all of us to “unplug” than it is for kids these days.

Perhaps at college next year he may develop more social skills, especially if he goes and lives in a dorm. Living in a dorm will most likely mean he will have a roommate, and perhaps maybe he will even meet some nice girl to date. College will most likely be the key for your son to develop social skills. After all, why would he want to stay on the computer when he has a nice girl to take to dinner or a roommate who eventually becomes his best friend?

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michelle “Mikey” Arana is a 2003 graduate of Mountain Pointe High School. She offers free peer advice, however, Mikey is not licensed or trained, just a fellow friend to the community. All inquiries made to Mikey will remain anonymous unless legal issues occur. She can be reached at myaskmikey@yahoo.com.

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