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Social Media, Mobile Devices and the Demise of Social Skills

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You know what I mean. Your kids are the best example. Immersed in online dialogue with perhaps scores of friends and maybe on multiple devices at the same time. The devices can become so addictive that not a meeting or meal goes by without being tethered to that electronic friend or security blanket. Well if we are dealing with mature adults, we have our friends and social circles and learning how to socialize and meet friends or mates is not a big concern. But what about our teenagers? How will they learn to mix and mingle or maybe meet others in social settings? What about finding a date?

Sure, one can go to the bookstore or the coffee shop to seek to meet people. However, take a look the next time you go. Everyone is either on their laptop or mobile device. After all, these places all have to now have wi-fi to accomodate these needs of their customers.

We need to draw some lines and allow for some level of normalcy. We are bigger and stronger than these small devices. Right? When I get home from work, I change my clothes,leave my mobile device on the dresser and head down to dinner.Yes, I hear from clients "where were you at 7 when I tried to reach you?" I tell them the truth.Why must we be tethered 24/7? Cannot we have a peaceful dinner with family without playing with the devices? This is one way to keep social skills in practice and still alive. I refuse to be at everyone's beck and call 24/7. I also turn the thing off and charge it when I go to sleep. Many have told me quite accurately that if you answer their emails at 2 a.m. you have created a level of expectation and a bad precedent.

When I was in college in the late 70s/early 80s one of my professors predicted that in a short period of time we would have wireless phones that we could walk down the street with chatting with our friends. We were amazed by this prediction and it did come true some ten years later. Are we that much better off? Back then if not at home or work there were payphones everywhere. I used to enjoy quiet time in the car occassionally singing one of my favorite tunes. Now I have to either receive or make calls in ordet to keep up. The expectation today is instant answers and results,no more waiting.Its nice when you are the recipient but not so wonderful when you are the one being bombarded.

However, while meeting people on Facebook or finding a date on JDate may be a nice thing, we need to encourage our kids to socialize and learn interpersonal skills in person, not just on line. After all, they will be our doctors, lawyers, business owners et al. Don't you want to deal with and be treated by folks who care and folks who have social skills and personalities? I know I do. Being immersed at work with computers, mobile devices, faxes and Fed Ex's, can we be any more smothered? Your kid on the couch with the computer, mobile device and music device may be just training for what is to come at work. However, we the old parents got a good head start without all the interference of the devices. Let's encourage some down time and time without these addictive toys. After all, they probably give off harmful electro magnetic radiation or the like. Certainly in-person meetings and conversations do not and are a heck more stimulating and exciting than surfing the net. How about No Phone events at school and work.?I Vote yes !

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