Is technology ruining youth social skills?


By Grace Irwin, News editor


As technology has evolved, so have the ways kids act and think. The widespread common use of  texting and different social media platforms has brought about a new approach to social interaction, forcing kids to behave differently.

In the past, kids didn’t have cell phones to be in constant communication with each other. They were forced to call each other on landlines, meet up to make plans, go on dates to get to know each other or speak one-on-one to make social connections. Technology advancements have allowed kids to put on a “cyber-mask,” leading to a decline in social skills for newer generations as a whole.

Blogger and author Mark Manson comments on how the increase of media in everyday life has led to social anxieties, especially in teens, in his 2016 book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***” . “This flood of extreme information has conditioned us to believe that exceptionalism is the new normal,” he writes. “And because we’re all quite average most of the time, the deluge of exceptional information drives us to feel pretty damn insecure and desperate, because clearly we are somehow not good enough.”

Technology allows kids to connect with people without the pressure of a face-to-face conversation, which causes them to rely on this communication method rather than participate in in-person discussion. Instead of  dealing with this anxiety and progressing toward a solution, social media has made it possible to sustain relationships solely through the Internet.

While not all teens show signs of social anxiety, social media has become a prevalent part of all relationships, dictating how people analyze social stature. The amount of likes a post receives or how many followers one has begins to define how others view people on a social standard.

“If you can’t be together all the time, a huge part of the relationship happens online and over text,” senior Evin Lathrop said.  “It’s very important.”

Most kids would rather argue over text when dealing with a problem, and are even afraid to order a pizza for delivery over the phone.

“I get nervous because I’m scared I’m going to sound dumb and say something wrong,”  senior Danielle Farina said.

Kids are often afraid to confront people in uncomfortable situations. How many times have you sent a screenshot of a text to your best friend? Probably a hundred times. It’s because technology has allowed people to hold conversations while being in different places, creating a disconnect in conversation and in relationships as a whole.

According to an October 2016 Newsweek article, Andrew Doan, M.D., a recognized expert in technology and video-game addiction, calls video games and screen technologies “digital drugs.” Many technologies are so stimulating, Doan says, that they raise levels of dopamine—the feel-good neurotransmitter most commonly linked to addiction. Research, he says, shows that long amounts of time focused on a screen can affect the brain’s frontal cortex the same way that cocaine does.

“Over the years kids have become accustomed to relying on technology for communication,” AP Computer Science Principles and Math teacher Dean Ratajczak said. “They have lost valuable social skills required for interacting with other people and other individuals face to face. When I was growing up, tech was restricted to a certain extent; now its not restricted at all. I learned how to use it responsibly, and I don’t believe many kids today know how to use it responsibly.”

Different apps such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat have led to an obsession over media profiles. Like the amount of likes a post receives or the number of days of a Snapchat streak, media profile statistics have begun to take a toll on how a person is viewed by the rest of society. In reality does it really matter how many comments you receive on a post? Probably not, but for some, it defines who one is socially.

While the continuous growth and innovation in technology is crucial to the development of society, it is important to keep in mind how constant exposure to it affects people mentally.