Texting temptation: The age of screenagers
Does texting hinder people’s social skills?
January 25, 2023
Texting hinders communication, social skills
Texting has become one of the biggest technological advancements in the way that we communicate. It has grown to be a part of our daily life, especially as the world becomes more and more revolved around technology and the internet. However, there are a myriad of negative ramifications that come along with texting being our main form of communication.
The biggest issue with our increased dependency on texting is how it detracts from our vital social skills, especially for children and teens. Being able to send a text to someone instead of calling them or talking to them in person is convenient, but it also makes it more difficult for younger people to interact with those around them. The most prominent example I’ve seen of this is in the situation of ordering a pizza. I have friends who are scared to make a phone call to order a pizza and would rather not get a pizza at all than have to order it from someone on the phone. Although this seems insignificant, the implications that small roadblocks like this have on a person’s communication abilities become more and more impactful later in life.
Our reliance on texting has even made its way into the dating scene, where couples are breaking up over text rather than in person. By hiding behind their screen, they are able to avoid the confrontation, slyly circumventing that important developmental skill of confrontation. Because the person doesn’t have to see their partner’s reaction or deal with the emotional aftermath, it almost dehumanizes the action, which is why it’s happening at an increasing rate.
A big part of normal human interaction that is lost in texting is non-verbal communication. Things like facial expressions, tone, eye contact, gestures and body language heavily influence how we interpret the way things are said. Texting eliminates all of these aspects. This creates an impersonality within conversation, and oftentimes leads to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. The biggest example of this that I have experienced is the “oh ok” text. In the texting world, these two words can mean a variety of different things, but the inflection of the statement is up to the interpretation of the reader rather than the sender. It can be perceived as nonchalant, sorrowful or even arrogant. This can result in unintended hurt feelings or just general miscommunication, which is never easy to navigate. When talking in person, these issues can easily be avoided or resolved, but texting does not provide that level of mutual understanding.
Although it is incredibly quick and convenient, texting ultimately makes the way we communicate unnecessarily confusing and hinders our social skills.
Texting is effective, convenient
As technology and the world in general advances, there’s always controversy about “the way things should be.” Ever since cell phones and texting have become more accessible, people have questioned whether or not they’re used too much. Teens are some of the biggest users of cell phones and messaging, and while there are valid reasons to be concerned, it can still be very helpful for that age group.
A lot of communication that happens through teens’ phones is small — making plans with friends, letting someone know that they arrived safely and asking parents what’s for dinner are just some examples. These messages don’t need a full phone call and most of the time can’t wait until they see that person face-to-face. Even for things that could be discussed over the phone, texting allows teens to tell that person whenever they need, instead of having to wait for a moment when both people are available to talk. Using texting as a main form of communication is not only convenient, it’s timely.
For longer conversations, many teens still prefer texting because it allows them to think about what they send before they send it. Especially for more introverted teens, this can take a lot of stress away from longer discussions with friends or family. When in-person or on a phone call, people are forced to come up with responses in seconds, and it’s very easy to make mistakes or say things before thinking about them. While it doesn’t seem like a big deal to many people, this can be alarming for introverted or socially-anxious teens.
While texting can raise concerns, such as having less experience with face-to-face conversations, it does more good than bad. It’s not extremely harmful to teens and it makes sense for it to be their main way of communication in the world we live in. From sending quick messages to being more comfortable having long conversations, texting is one of the most effective ways to communicate.