Social Media Destroying Social Skills

Haley Jensen, Staff Writer

Teenagers text at the dinner table. They tweet walking to class. They check Facebook on dates. Many of them have become so dependent on technology that they struggle interacting with people in real life. Their only means of communication are through texting and emails.  Social skills are lacking in a majority of high school students and social media seems to be impacting this.

A study by Stanford University showed that applications like Facebook, Twiter,  and FaceTime are not a replacement for real human interaction. 3,461 American girls aged 8 to 12 were surveyed for the study. It was concluded that young girls who spend an excessive amount of time using these devices will struggle to develop normal social skills.

Bingham High School psychologist Clinton Thurgood said, “I do feel that technology is having a great impact on teen’s social abilities. There is a lot less face to face interaction than in past generations and teens choose to spend time with computers and video games instead of out with friends.”

Teens are becoming uncomfortable with in-person confrontations of any kind, even talking over the phone. It is less threatening to text someone or send them a Facebook message. Actually hearing someone’s voice and making eye contact is starting to become a thing of the past. If someone is shy or awkward, they will probably have a hard time talking to someone in person. They can have the same conversation via text message or email. It is easier for them to maintain a flow of conversation when they have time to think of a response.

“When texting you can be yourself, but in person, it is easy to close up and that makes it hard to express what you feel,” said senior Tiana Warner

Texting also lacks personality and tone. Saying “whatever” in a text could mean, “anything you want” or “stop talking to me.”  Today’s teenagers are losing valuable opportunities to practice in-person interactions that are needed to develop good social skills. Skills, like being comfortable around new people or dealing with customers at a job, are needed in everyday life. Many teens do not understand how to use body language to portray what they mean. Body language and facial expressions add an emotional element to conversations that are missing from social media. Meaningful relationships are never going to develop over a computer screen.

When talking to someone over the Internet or through a text, people often get the courage to fire off statements they would not dare say to someone away from the screen.

Senior T.j. Wenner said, “It’s a lot easier to say something over the phone than it is to say it face to face.”