Teens have multiple ways of communicating via technology which offer alternatives to face-to-face conversations.
Adolescents are relying on technology more and more to communicate and need to be careful that they are not losing their ability to effectively express themselves, as well as connect with others. (There is a significant difference in the quality of communication between virtual, and in-person conversations.)
Connection happens on much deeper levels during face-to-face conversations. Looking into the other’s eyes, as well as reading their body language, reveals far more than just words alone.
Has your teen gotten out of the habit of looking into a person’s eyes when talking to someone? Does your teen struggle to focus on and be fully present with the other person during their conversation with them?
Looking a person in the eye when you talk to them is a sign of respect. When someone is looking you in the eye, you know they are giving your their undivided attention. Glancing at your phone to check on the latest text or tweet is rude. Of course you can multi-task … but at what price to your relationship?
Words on a screen are also a bit impersonal, and can easily be misinterpreted. How do you really gauge someone’s emotions from a tweet or text? Words and phrases mean different things to different people, and arguments are not uncommon because of misinterpretations. Sarcasm, teasing, and deep feelings are very hard to accurately depict from small bits of language.
When a teen relies on technology for communication in a relationship, they are robbing themselves and others from the opportunity to develop a deeper connection, and to bond. Technology is unreliable in communicating the essence of each person involved.
While using technology may be a fun way to enhance the relationship at times, it should never take the place of face-to-face conversations. Heartfelt, fulfilling relationships are built on a foundation of solid communication and connection. No form of communication is as reliable or powerful as verbal, in-person–reciprocally sharing with, and responding to, each other.
(acknowledging Mike Domitriz)
Taking the Trouble out of the Teen Years
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