How Does Excessive Online Communication Affect Teens?

Several reports suggest that teens nowadays communicate with their friends more through text messages and social networks than having a face-to-face communication or even chatting on phones.

The New York Times reports:

The Pew Research Center found that half of American teenagers — defined in the study as ages 12 through 17 — send 50 or more text messages a day and that one third send more than 100 a day. Two thirds of the texters surveyed by the center’s Internet and American Life Project said they were more likely to use their cellphones to text friends than to call them.

While this recent phenomenon may be because of the ease of electronic communication, opinions are divided on whether this allows teens to come closer to their friends and develop their social behavior for good or not.

Today’s youths may be missing out on experiences that help them develop empathy, understand emotional nuances and read social cues like facial expressions and body language.

Neuroscientist Gary Small agrees with the above. He says that although kids have good technical skills, they lack face-to-face human contact skills.

However, a few experts think that technology may not be a bad thing after all and is actually bringing kids closer, as it allows them to be connected to each other at all times. Supporting this argument are those who believe that texting and online communication may make it easier for shy kids to open up and connect with others.

A parent with a son who was earlier shy and introverted vouched for it.

The No. 1 reason is it (Facebook) is helping him come out of his shell and develop social skills that he wasn’t learning because he’s so shy. I couldn’t just push him out of the house and say ‘Find someone’.

Researchers agree that more research is needed to understand the effects of online communication on the emotional quality of a relationship

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