Has Social Media Killed Social Skills?

What if Ward and June Cleaver lived in today's world? Beaver and Wally could text or Facebook their daily lives to their parents. Experts say that without moderation, social skills could kill social skills, especially since we're already seeing them eroding.

These 4th graders at Lewis and Clark Elementary in Council Bluffs are working on their Facebook page in class.

"Sometimes we do it twice a week," says one student.

The class of 2019 is giving family members a status update regarding their latest math project.

'Can you go to our profile page and see how many friends we have?" asks their teacher Mrs. Griffith.

While Ethan types -- the other students offer suggestions to grammar, spelling and punctuation.

It's a great way for parents to start a conversation about what happened that day," says the teacher.

The 9-and-10 year olds are among the first generation where facebook, texting, and other forms of social media seem to be drowning out face-to-face contact.

It begs the question - are we raising a generation lost on the art of conversation.

"Who knows about the kids who are 10 now, what it means for them," says Creighton professor Dr. Chad McBride who teaches communications.

College students are among those who have already spent years with their heads buried in their phones.

"I do worry about appreciating the person in the room - rather than all the other people who could be here," says Professor McBride.

"I don't think it has affected our generation," says Creighton freshman Brittany Gilbert, who considers her smartphone as important as her shoes.

"If I don't have it with me I feel a part of me is missing," says Maryanne Cimino.

They believe social media only enhances their important connections. 'We still have friends we hang out with," says Brittany.

"We are hearing from parents that kids aren't having a face-to-face conversation with anybody," says Boys Town Training Manager Laura Buddenberg, whose organization taught close to 7,000 teachers last year.

The distractions. The distance between parents and children. Is that typical -- perhaps just the way it was when we were younger when it came to the TV or video games?

Laura Buddenberg hears the frustrations of parents. "They'll say, 'I'm downstairs texting my kid upstairs to come down for dinner.'"

So what is the right balance to make sure technology distractions don't dominate? And how do we not lose sight of common manners and courtesy?

Boys Town offers these suggestions -- look people in the eye when talking, put away the phone at special occasions like thanksgiving with family, create text free zones in the house -- at dinner time for example -- and that means parents too and don't overestimate the value of a facebook friend.

"A friend is someone you have seen…first name and last name and have a connection," says Buddenberg.

In what could be considering encouraging news for the younger generation just learning the rules -- these college students say they've learned how to avoid social media killing their social skills.

"To me that's the moral of the story," says Professor McBride. "There are a lot of good things about technology - but we have to be aware of the drawbacks. They don't replace face-to-face interactions.”


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