Does Connection = Communication

In recent classes I’ve offered, parents ask again and again what I think of social media. From the repeated questions, I infer that they are uneasy with what is happening in their families. They are experiencing a tug between their kids’ (and sometimes their own) preoccupation with “connecting” by text or email or Snapchat or….or…. a tug between “connecting” and being present but absent. You know the feeling. Your kid is sitting in the front seat beside you, not talking but texting the other kid she just left. Or, you’re at dinner with Grandmother and your kid is sneaking glances under the table to continue a game with his friend.

I am troubled about this…not because I hate technology or because I advocate throwing it all over. I am troubled about this because I know that to develop into a real human being, a teen/child MUST have real, face-to-face interaction with real people in real time along with all the real sensory feedback which comes along with that. I am troubled about this because increasingly I read, hear and see that many of us (adults included) PREFER communicating electronically.

No one addresses this better than Sherry Turkle, professor of social science and technology at MIT. I hope you’ll take the very short time to listen to her TED talk. Better yet, invite your teen to watch along with you and then have some genuine conversation about it.

 

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