This interview, done a few days earlier with me, my son James and his girlfriend Kelli, talks about some of the good and bad. I’d embed it directly, but the Fox23.com site doesn’t allow it. Sorry about that. But I’ll wait while you watch it… it’s a short segment.
What do you think? Is it Anti-social?
For my part, I think communicating face to face AND digitally are both critical skills teens, and adults for that matter, need to master. I use shorthand when I text, but very rarely when I tweet, because to me the mediums are different and I make my living in part by writing. How I write out loud, on Twitter and on Facebook (and on my blog!) matters. I tend to text only my family, friends, and sometimes clients for a specific purpose (already here for our meeting, found a table!) but that communication isn’t public, per se.
NOT teaching teens and young adults how to do successfully communicate digitally both for their own benefit and for the benefit or at the wish of their eventual employers is doing them a disservice. In all likelihood, my kid is going to be working somewhere in a few years with a social media policy and an expectation that he’s connected to the larger world in some way other than just via email. If he doesn’t understand the “rules” of social sharing and building human connections without building resentment or creating stalkers, I’ve failed him. He needs to learn to walk into a room, make eye-contact with someone, walk up and shake his or her hand, smile and introduce himself. And then he needs to know how to follow up via email and connect on appropriate social channels too.
I don’t think twitter and texting have killed our kids’ ability to write well any more than I think video game consoles, first hugely popular when I was a young teen, killed our ability to experience nature or interact with others. What kills kids’ ability to write well is a lack of writing assignments and a lack of standards that require their effort. And a lack of parental involvement with logical consequences for failure to perform… like turning off the data plan for the smartphone until the grades improve, or taking it away altogether. My parents used to restrict our time on the Atari if we messed up in school, and it was effective at keeping us focused on the right things, long term. I didn’t grow up to be an introverted basement-dweller living on day-old delivery pizza, and I don’t believe my social-media engaged son is going to grow up to be a narcissistic, emotionally-isolated, writing-challenged people user, either. But that’s just me…. what do you think? Is social media making our kids more anti-social?