Developmental psychologists who study the effect of texting are worried because aside from the fact that kids nowadays exploit technology too much, their interpersonal skills are also not yet well-founded. Most adults have already established social skills when they were first introduced to text messaging. In contrast to the teens, although adults’ conversational skills may have weakened over the years, it is still pretty much intact.
According to a TIME report, MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle is among the top researchers taking a closer look at the impact of texting on interpersonal development. According to Turkle, face-to-face conversations teach kids the art of thinking, reasoning, and self-reflection — much like having a conversation with themselves.
Take, for example, the texted apology. Turkle says that typing “’I’m sorry’ and hitting send” is a clear example of losing a lot in conversation when we text instead of speak. “A full-scale apology means I know I’ve hurt you, I get to see that in your eyes,” she says. “You get to see that I’m uncomfortable, and with that, the compassion response kicks in. There are many steps and they’re all bypassed when we text.” One of the advantages of texting is it makes the situation less painful — however, the pain is the main point. “The complexity and messiness of human communication gets shortchanged,” Turkle says. “Those things are what lead to better relationships.”
Habitual texters may not only rob their present relationships of something valuable, but they can also hamper their ability to create healthy relationships in the future because they do not exercise the art of seeing through nonverbal visual cues. This is the reason why kids are so easy to lie to — they are functional illiterates in the field of reading facial expressions.
Adults tend to be less afraid of conversations, but they have the tendency to avoid conversation altogether — just because it’s more convenient. Texting a birthday greeting to a friend you dislike means you don’t have to pretend you’re happy for her. Texting to ask what time a party starts means you don’t have to deal with the niceties that a face-to-face conversation usually requires.
Still, text messaging seems to be taking up a permanent place in our society. So, avoiding it is also not recommended. However, throwing in some face time via live video chat together with texting is a good idea. Turkle warns us that too much texting is tantamount to a life of “hiding in plain sight.” And mind you, this could lead to a life lived a alone.
Do you often find yourself texting too much and losing the value of relationships? How important for you is face-to-face conversation? Share your insights with us!
Image: Technology Uninhibited