Are Twitter and Facebook killing off our social skills?

Ever since the birth of the mobile phone and texting, articles have popped up in the media fore-warning the doom of society thanks to the killing off of social skills. First it was texting, now it’s social media. ‘Young people’ we’re told ‘are losing the ability to read body-language’. But does social media really present some kind of danger to society?

Personally I don’t really see the harm in creating new methods of communication for socialising.  Actually, I think it’s good for young people to get used to written communication and using the internet, because these are really useful skills for the workplace.  Social media also fits around your life enabling you to socialise more easily on a daily basis.

The thing that is harmful is not the social media itself, but the risk of limiting yourself to only one medium to communicate with peers. Or limiting yourself to any one thing in any respect. Of course it’s bad for young people to spend all their time on Facebook; just as it wouldn’t be a good idea to spend all your time working, or knitting, or staring out of the window.

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It seems to me that if there is indeed a danger here, it’s more likely to be the limited experience and limited learning that this scenario points to. Having a wide variety of experience is always going to be the best way for young people to develop, with as broad a range of skills as possible.  My concern is children who grow up playing computer games and never running around outside. I’m sure I’m not alone!  Social skills are vitally important yes, the written just as much as the verbal. But isn’t the limited character allowance on something like Twitter developing into a new social skill, even an art form, like Haiku?

As with anything, it’s all about achieving balance in your life. Balance isn’t always easy, but it isn’t social media that threatens that balance – it’s attitude and self-discipline and a willingness to recognise that a whole world exists away from our computers. Am I wrong?

By Amelia Strawson

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