Remember being an awkward tweenager? When talking to someone of the opposite sex was possibly one of the most gut-wrenching painful experiences ever (unless you were the cocky over confident kid everyone secretly hated)? Or how talking to new people could be a bit scary. You do remember. Ah good. And you grew up? So, you got through those painful experiences and you learnt from them. You became more confident with each galling or confidence boostingly good face to face experience. And it was no longer a trauma. It was just life.
But what what about kids of today? How much face-to-face embarrassment do they have to go through? I just read that over two-thirds (67%) of teenagers spend the majority of their browsing time on social networks. The majority. Added to that 15% of tweenies say instant messaging services are their main use of the web. Along with this, according to Adage, the 50% who own them spend another chunk of their time with their heads burried in the latest apps on their mobilephones. So what will become of their social skills? with So how will they get learn from painful social experience, if they don’t have to have them? If they can just avoid them by having them online?
Instant gratification is a key driver in modern society, causing mass production, disposable everything and general impatience. So, what will be the effects of instant communication gratification? Yes, I just made that up and it’s not brilliant. But you get the idea – that without having to go through painful interactions, kids might never learn how to communicate properly? Dun-dun-dun! Or will they?
I suppose like everything the effects will be subtle. Computer games were heralded as the last potential cause of major social breakdown. And because of computer games (and fear of crime and other media propaganda) kids do indeed play outside less, and do play on computer games more. But now they play online with their friends remotely. Perhaps, a new modality of friendship and a new modality of communication.
I’m waffling, but I don’t care, it’s my blog. But I’d love to hear how people think social networks have affected their kids behaviour and social skills. Do you think it is a bad thing? Or are they helping them connect with new people and forming wider social groups? Do they seem to be shallow relationships? Do you think this will help or hinder them in later life?