Do kids know how to have conversation?

I went to email a friend today about a small matter regarding a vacation we were planning together.  As I began the email and all the complexities I was trying to convey about rental cars, hotels, etc. the thought occurred to me that a conversation would prove to be so much more civilized.  So….I called.  I talked with my friend.  We chatted and problem solved and made plans.  The experience was so much more rewarding than a string of emails.

The way we communicate has changed so significantly in the last 20 years.  We may communicate more frequently, with a wide array of people, but less deeply.  We send short emails, messages by text, facebook likes, but our new forms remove tone of voice, gesture, body language, and emotional signals. It seems we are continually communicate, but the depth and emotional connection is limited.

Some worry that technology is getting in the way of the socio-emotional development of our children. Are adolescents learning the communications skills required when most of their conversations are sent by text?  Some believe social anxiety may be linked to the lack of face to face conversations kids experience with each other.

Like most things communicating through technology is not all bad, but what can parents do to encourage more conversation and interactions?

  • Parents putting their phones away and giving full conversational attention to their children
  • Parents can be mindful of their own texting behaviours and be more mindful of actually seeking conversation rather than sound bytes, picking up the phone or visiting with friends.
  • Parents can creating boundaries around phone use at a young age before the phone becomes source of conflict between parents and teens.
  • Creating phone free times such as dinner, or when there are family activities.


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