Cell phones, as convenient as they might be, have taught our children not to talk to other people. I’m not even sure they should be called phones, because most teens and young people don’t use them as such, but as yet another keyboard by which they can send a written message to someone else.
Text messaging is so prevalent that when I suggest to my daughter that she actually make a phone call where she can speak to someone — because we’re trying to make transportation arrangements to a sports practice with another family where that teenage daughter is not answering her texts — she looks at me like that’s the most absurd suggestion she’s ever heard.
Many experts have written and talked about our kids’ lack of interpersonal skills. All that time watching TV, playing video games, surfing the Internet and playing on social networking sites has made our kids comfortable with this highly impersonal form of communication and not so comfortable with actual conversation.
That being said, none of my kids have trouble conversing — in person — with their friends. And my daughter can sometimes spends hours on the house phone talking to a friend. But the thought of having to make a phone call and talk to someone they may not know in order to get to the person they do know or in order to ask questions and get information necessary to make some sort of a decision or plans, seems to be a bit intimidating. Whether it’s making telephone calls to try to land a job or calls to nail down a carpool, many young people probably need to move out of their comfort zones of texting, e-mailing and sending Facebook messages.
Sometimes, nothing beats that personal contact.