A lot of people have a lot to say about the ways in which social media has affected our ability to communicate. Many say that social media has harmed our ability to connect with each other on deeper levels; others would say that platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and things like texting and WhatsApp, actually help bring us closer.
Learning how to communicate and work well with others is an essential part of a kid’s development. So it’s definitely worth investigating this issue as parents in a world where kids are getting more and more involved with the Internet and portable technology all the time.
While there is no clear-cut answer to this sort of question, here are a few things you may want to consider to help you make up your own mind for your family’s particular situation!
The art of writing
Many have argued that online interactions, being largely reliant on text, are actually helping kids get more involved in writing. Some would say that the writing involved is largely trivial, but this may not be the case. Writing has been shown to help people attain clearer, deeper thinking. Finding ways to express feelings through the written word – and yes, this includes typing! – forces you to slow down a little and think about what you’re saying in more detail. The increased importance of writing could actually be helping kids in many ways.
Forever in touch
Always being able to stay in touch with people definitely has its upsides. However, many would argue that this leads to lots of little ‘micro-conversations’ that don’t really add all that much to your understanding of other people. A lot of kids seem to communicate through likes and retweets; many are more reluctant to hang out with friends because they can just speak to them online. It’s important to understand that even kids, on some level, know that seeing their friends is a much better experience – it’s just that they might need a bit more encouragement to actually do that these days!
When we think about the dangers that online communication can present, then the more serious problems become a lot more apparent. Even if we ignore the bigger issue of our children’s safety, things like cyberbullying may harm their ability to trust others. It’s much easier to be mean online, after all. This is why many parents turn to resources like Family Orbit that can help their kids avoid this sort of thing. Of course, it could also be argued that kids communicating online who know about these dangers actually develop a lot of skills that can help them later in life – for example, they become more aware of signs that danger is near.
We tend to create social bubbles for ourselves. The friends we have seem to agree with many of our points most of the time. Social media helps expose us to different points of view, which can be more important to a child’s development than you might think. A growth of their social circle to include people from all over the world can help them build new interests and even gain knowledge of other cultures. As long as they’re safe, this can be excellent for their empathy.