Are we raising a nation of teenagers who r omg totally gr8 texters, but total dopes when it comes to managing face to face communication?
Your teenage child sends and receives 2,272 texts a month and spends nine hours a week absorbed in social networking sites. According to this Wall Street Journal Online op-ed by an English professor at Emory, there's major collateral damage: a rising generation that is deaf and dumb when it comes to real-time interaction and the subtle language of nonverbal cues -- tonality, facial expressions, posture, and the like. He's concerned: His book is called The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future.
The professor's both wrong and dead right.
Jeopardizing our future? Wrong. There's so much more to celebrate than to gripe about in the Digital Age. The online revolution has wildly expanded our opportunities to share, create, and do more of all the things that tribes have done since the dawn of time -- and now at the speed of light. We're getting more human every day. I'm excited, not afraid, to see what new competencies Gen-Y and Gen-Z bring into the culture.
Here's where he's right: While the desire for relationships is innate, building them requires a skill set -- one that can and must be learned. I know it can be learned, because I've made a lot of money, and my clients a lot of money, by teaching them those very skills. Nonverbal communication is an important part of that skill set, and it's entirely possible that the professor's right in worrying that it's not going to be your kid's strong suit.
It's up to you, as parents, to fill the gap in that skill set. Push them toward activities that will develop those abilities that they miss out on while glued to their PC.
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