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Mental Health

How Technology is Affecting Face-to-Face Communication

It’s no secret that many teenagers are addicted to their phones. They claim social media helps them stay connected, but is it putting a strain on their skills to hold a conversation in person?

Although social media platforms can disseminate information on important issues, nothing can replace the connection that comes with face-to-face conversation. Knowing the consequences of frequent device use could help teenagers reevaluate their time spent on technology.

To be social creatures in person, we need to read other people. The ability to identify others’ emotions is called social intelligence. This is also correlated with emotional intelligence: acknowledging our own feelings and other people’s (Wikiel). Noted expert David Caruso, a Ph.D. in psychology, stated, “[emotions are] a source of information that can reveal the impact you’re having on those around you.” One can sense the effects of their words through non-verbal cues, including body language, tone of voice, and distance from the speaker. It’s extremely difficult to conceal non-verbal cues, making face-to-face conversation intimidating because of the transparency of reactions.

The New York Times article “Keep Your Head Up: How Smartphone Addiction Kills Manners and Moods,” states, “a study in 2010 found that adolescents ages 8 to 18 spent more than 7.5 hours a day consuming media.” If we want true connection with others, we have to be in their presence. By talking face-to-face, we learn to show emotion without shame because there is nothing to hide behind, forcing us to own our emotions and build stronger relationships.

An excellent way of practicing successful communication is through restorative justice processes. These programs allow students to fix problems by going to an adult on their own and admitting to their mistakes. Students can be independent while they practice face-to-face conversations to seek advice (Davidson). This could curb the negative effects of oversaturation of social media. The first step to logging off is admitting there is a problem. We have to switch our mindset to pro-conversation (Popescu). Not only can restorative justice programs help better relationships with others, but also with ourselves.

Although successful communication takes time and practice, it is important to remember technology and social media does have its place. Many teenagers claim it is easier to bring up something in person after talking it through on social media (Chandra). The only way to gain better interpersonal skills is by practicing talking face-to-face. This important social skill will only become easier over time.

Surely one can find a healthy balance between social media and the present moment through setting boundaries with their phone. By evaluating how we spend our time, we should come to realize that spending quality time with others is more important than any device.

Jaymie Weigel

Marquette '23

I'm all about comedy, cows, and Christmas.
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