How is social media affecting social skills?

My executive director and I had an interesting conversation this past week on social media and social skills. We discussed how social media is impacting our children and if that impact is positive or negative.

We also considered how social media will impact how underprivileged children develop currently acceptable social skills. Without the educational tools and exercises will these children be left behind?

I’d like to open up our conversation to you. What are your thoughts on these questions?

NOTE: These questions aren’t intended to be negative toward social media.

In two decades, how will grade school students define communication?
When I was a child I defined communication as writing a letter, phoning a friend, or talking face to face. In middle school, I added ICQ. In high school, I added AIM, email, and online voice chat. In college, I added Facebook. Now I can simply plug into a network of friends, colleagues, and peers whenever and however I want. If that’s how much communication has evolved in two decades, how is it going to evolve going forward?

Who are those people helping make those evolutionary steps? I want to work for them. 

How will social media help shape acceptable forms of communication?
Social acceptability is ever changing toward communication. I should preface that with, “if we like it or not.” How though? In philanthropy, will the face to face ask go extinct? Will everyone just solicit digitally? Look how easy it is to share one’s story digitally, why not the ask too?

Will social media hinder students when developing currently acceptable social skills?
For me this is the important question. We know there is already a huge gap in the education that children are receiving across the U.S., but does that gap grow larger when coupled with ineffective ways of educating students on social skills? Will some children be shutout of the game, because they lack currently acceptable social skills?

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3 responses to “How is social media affecting social skills?

  1. Kristin Brænne

  2. “When I was a child I defined communication as writing a letter, phoning a friend, or talking face to face.” – but enhancing your skills in one of these areas did not detract from any of the others, did it? I think the same is true for ‘social media’ – it is its own area and has its own uses, skills and nuances. Children (like everyone else) have different methods of interacting with others depending on the form of communication. The difference being that they are children and their learning of what is acceptable and what is not is far more dynamic than that of adults faced with new methods of communication, and who adapt themselves to the standard, rather than adapt the standard to their own uses. Much like people who ‘grew up with computers’ might be better at using a keyboard, so children who ‘grew up with Facebook’ will have a greater understanding of the different situations social media present, and how to react. The difference is the accessibility on offer that simply wasn’t there with other forms of communication; but whether this is a problem depends on to what extent you feel people sacrifice face-to-face interaction for the arguably more convenient interaction to be found online.

    • Thanks for sharing Dan. Great thoughts on children’s ability to adapt to situations.

      What if future generations aren’t underdeveloped, but are hyper aware of acceptable social skills depending on the situation? Like all generations they will have more evolved skills and understanding than us.

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