Smart Phones: Affecting Adolescent's Social Skills
SMART PHONES:AFFECTING ADOLESCENT’S SOCIAL SKILLS By: Spencer Mahoney
PAGE 1 The ability to communicate and the level of socialskills a person has are based upon their relationshipsand are learned over the course of their childhood,adolescence, and into their adulthood. The differentrelationships we have growing up, from our family, to ourteachers and classmates, to our friends, shape the waywe are able to communicate and interact with society asan adult. Adolescence is a time when the individualstarts learning as much about the world outside of theclassroom as they do inside, begin forming opinions,and begin building the person that they will eventuallybecome. The way adolescents have beencommunicating with one another has certainly changedover generations. The Silent Generation
PAGE 2grew up communicating face to face. The Baby Boomeradolescents would talk on the phone for hours at nighton a landline. Generation Y grew up with AOL InstantMessenger, and cell phones were just beginning tobecome popular. (Hammill, 2005, p.1) Today’sgeneration has a dozen ways of communicating withtheir friends, and they can all be accessed through theirsmart phone. “In a new survey by the Pew InternetResearch Center, U.S. teenagers are talking onlandlines and cell phone less, using moresmartphones, and are averaging 60 texts a day--up from50 in 2009” (Kerr, 2012, p.1). The more technology hasgrown, the smaller face-to-face communication hasbecome, which has had an overall negative affect on
PAGE 3 adolescent’s social skills. (Luden, 2010, p. 1) The smartphone has had a significant impact through its Facebook and text messaging capabilities.Facebookhas completely changed the way adolescent’s interact with, and keep in touch with their friends. (Jackson, 2012, p.1) A person is able to see what
PAGE 4one of their Facebook friends has been doing in the pastyear that they haven’t seen them, with pictures andconversations between others, without actuallyreconnecting with them. No longer does one need towait until Monday morning homeroom to hear what oneof their friends did this weekend. The concept couldseem like a good idea, but it takes away from the needfor face-to-face communication. Facebook can also berelated to problems with one’s self-esteem. A person’sFacebook is supposed to be like an online version oftheir life, but in reality, no one has as many “friends” inreal life as they do on Facebook. Having a lot ofFacebook friends “may increase your self-esteem due tomore social support
PAGE 5received, but interactions may be more superficial”(Jackson, 2011, p.1). It may seem like you arepopular on Facebook, but this does not mean youare popular in real life. Facebook only shows whatyou choose to put there, sometimes portraying whatyou want your life to look like rather then the realthing. This is just like text messaging, in that youare able to control the communication while hidingbehind a screen.
PAGE 6 Texting is a relatively new form ofcommunication, and it has taken the world bystorm. Texting has taken away the need to actuallyuse your voice when communicating
PAGE 7with friends, and has given users the power tocompletely hide behind their screen. “Today, many arethose who consider their mobile phones first as textmessaging devices, and secondly as voice callingdevices" (Dansieh, 2011, p.4). In the case of anargument, texting gives you time to stop and plan outwhat you are going to say. This is probably better inregards to the argument, but it takes away from yourability to think on your feet when involved in verbalconflict. Quick thinking is a good tool to have whenworking in a business environment later in life, and youare not always going to have that extra time to perfectwhat you will say to your boss. Katherine Bindley fromthe Huffington Post says: "We all know
PAGE 8the story of kids breaking up with each other through text message. When you have to fire someone or give them bad news, its uncomfortable. In face-to-face conversation, youve got to think on your feet. ... Youve got to respond right away" (as quoted in Bindley, 2011, p.1). One may think there is no practice for thinking on your feet, but when you never are forced to think quickly in an uncomfortable environment, it may be impossible when you are finally faced with it. NiniHalkett, a teacher at a Los Angeles high school describes what she has been seeing, "They can get up the courage to ask you for [a deadline] extension on the computer," she says. "But they wont come and speak to you face-to-face about it. And that worries me, in terms of
PAGE 9their ability — particularly once they get out in theworkplace — to interact with people" (as quoted inLudden, 2010, p.1). The text message has alsotaken away the tone and sarcasm out of a person’svoice. When saying something out loud, certainstresses of a word or sentence would demonstrateto the listener that you are either being sarcastic, orimplying something else. This is nearly impossibleto recreate in a text message, and messages areoften misinterpreted.
PAGE 10 With this new form of communication has come anew language. Texting is a slang version of e-mail. Alltext messages are sent with a maximum number of 160characters, “Not only do text messaging and Twitterhave character limitations, so
PAGE 11do other forms of new media, such as IM (instantmessaging) and Internet chat rooms. Thus, based onthe need to get a point over quickly, there developed theneed to use as few words and letters as possible to getones point across (Dixon, 2011, p.2). It has nowbecome more then a way to get the point across quickly,but has become socially acceptable to misspell wordson purpose. Abbreviations and acronyms have madetheir way out of the smart phone an into every dayvocabulary. Terms like “Yolo”, “OMG”, “LOL”, etc. havebecome so popular in texting that people will actuallysay them out loud. Not only is texting affectingadolescent’s spelling, but it is affecting their vocabularyand the way they speak.
PAGE 12 Why have Facebook, text messaging, andsmartphones affected social skills? The answer involvesthe way humans are able to communicate with oneanother without actually seeing or hearing each other atall, from one screen to another screen. Going out to arestaurant, you are bound to see at least one couplesitting at the table each looking down at their phonesrather than engaging in conversation with one another.This goes with the idea that Facebook could create self-esteem issues. If a person is going out to a fancydinner, posting statuses and pictures, and then notactually enjoying the company they are with, it is as ifthey care more about what it looks like they are doing onFacebook then what they actually are doing in
PAGE 13that moment. The same holds true with a situationin which you are close to strangers, whether in atrain car, or an elevator. Before smart phones,these people would probably spark up aconversation rather than all standing awkwardly,staring into space. Now when someone steps intoan elevator, the first thing they do is turn to theirphone to avoid actual communication, and engagein virtual communication. In terms ofcommunication, this is a step in the wrong direction.In a time period when it is so easy to “have yourvoice be heard”, your actual voice is really neverbeing heard.
WORKS CITED B. Dixon Jr., J. (2011). Texting, Tweeting, and Other Internet Abbreviations. Judges Journal, 50(4), 30-33. Bindley, K. (2011, Dec 10). When children text all day, what happens to their socialskills?. . Retrieved from http:// www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/09/children-texting- technology-social-skills_n_1137570.html Dansieh, S. (2011). SMS Texting and Its Potential Impacts on Students Written Communication Skills. International Journal Of English Linguistics, 1(2), 222-229. doi:10.5539/ ijel.v1n2p222 Hammill, G. (2005, July 10). Mixing and Managing Four Generations. Fdu magazine online. Retrieved from http://www.fdu.edu/newspubs/magazine/05ws/ generations.htm
WORKS CITED Jackson, N. (2011, May 31). The Facebook Effect on Relationships. Mashable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2011/05/31/ facebook-relationships/ Kerr, D. (2012, March 19). Teens prefer texting over phone calls, e- mail. Retrieved fromhttp://news.cnet.com 8301-1023_3-57400439-93/teens-prefer-texting-over-phone- calls-e-mail/ Ludden, J. (2010, April 20). Teen texting soars; will social skills suffer? National public radio. Retrieved from http:// www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1261 17811 Van DerHeide, B., DAngelo, J. D., &Schumaker, E. M. (2012). The Effects of Verbal Versus Photographic Self- Presentation on Impression Formation inFacebook. Journal Of Communication, 62(1), 98-116. doi:10.1111/j. 1460-2466.2011.01617.x