I just finished reading this week’s issue of “Parade” in the Sunday paper. It had an interesting article titled “Generation Wired.” The article’s focus was from a parent’s perspective on how to monitor/control their kids’ technology use, and even though I no longer have young kids at home, from a communications standpoint, I found several points interesting.
1. Can texting actually be “addicting?” The last time I remember reading about dopamine was when I was trying to understand my brother’s drug addiction. Granted, I think the adverse effects of drug abuse are far more serious, but still I find it a bit disconcerting to think texting could indeed be an addictive habit. For me, some of the possible negative consequences of too much technology make the issue worthy of our attention.
2. What about the concern that this rampant texting habit is having a negative impact on how kids develop verbal communication skills? We often talk about this in my interpersonal communication class and how texting and other online communication impacts our personal relationships both positively and negatively. More and more though, I am hearing concern about how it can have a negative impact on our professional careers. The Parade article pointed to the fact that getting kids to talk on their phones is nearly impossible – everyone prefers to text, and this could lead to kids not developing important communication skills. This same issue was addressed during one of the public relations professional panels last year. One of the panelists said she had an intern that was uncomfortable making phone calls to clients, and she emphasized to the students in class that they must be able to communicate verbally with clients – on the phone and face to face. Which leads me to my next point.
3. I am in favor of the “no text zone” idea. I don’t think it is any different from the rules we applied to our kids when they were younger (see my About page). The only difference is the tools being used. The same concept applies though; we need time to actually talk with each other, and I think that is probably even more true today. And, I don’t think this applies just to the younger generation. I think we all need to learn to “unplug.” I am even making a conscious effort to do better at this. I really believe it is healthier for us. Which leads me to my last take-away from this article.
4. In the Parade article, it stated research indicates all this technology we are wired to all the time can make us multi-taskers, but it can also diminish our ability to concentrate. The article also shared comments from a group of college students that Dr. Gwenn O’Keefe, the lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics 2011 report on the impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families, spoke to. According to the article, the college students told O’Keefe that “they feel really bombarded, they’re not sure they’re learning effectively, and they’re not sure how to turn it all off.”
As public relations professionals we are taught to listen to our target audiences, and as educators, students are our target audience. So, I would like to know your thoughts on how you think being connected all the time is impacting you in your college career. Do you feel it would help you if you could learn to disconnect?
I’d welcome your thoughts…even more so in a real-time conversation! Feel free to share your thoughts in class or stop by my office… pull up a chair and let’s talk!