I wrote this a while back but it ties in with some of the things I'll be writing about this year so I thought I'd start off with this one this month.
The Influence of Texting on Communication Skills
By JoJo Tabares
“Nd U 2 gt rpt 2me by fri5. Bob”
Can you imagine receiving this email from a high level manager at a major corporation? What would you think of the company who sent this to you, their customer? If you think this is a an exaggeration, guess again! Many researchers believe that texting and email have contributed to the drastic decrease in effective communication skills of this generation. In this article, I am going to cover how texting and email have caused our skills to deteriorate even in the corporate world, how laziness has helped to increase miscommunication, how the impersonal nature of technological communication has increased rudeness and aggression, and hampered our friendships and other social skills. Lastly, I’m going to share some tips that will help you and your children avoid these pitfalls increasing your chances of success in your personal and professional life.
1. Bad Communication Skills Even in Corporate America:
“Communication is all anyone ever gets paid for ultimately…and if you cannot effectively communicate, you will pay…not get paid!” -Doug Firebaugh
According to a 2005 article in the Pittsburg Post Gazette, employers are complaining about communication skills. Bosses say the biggest failing among college graduates/job applicants is the inability to speak and write effectively. Communication skills now top the list of qualities employers seek because these are qualities they cannot teach in their two week new-hire training sessions. But these qualities are consistently at the bottom of the list perspective employees possess at the interview. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, good communication skills were what employers said was most lacking in college job candidates.
Debra Vargulish is a training administrator at the Latrobe-based global tooling company who recruits on college campuses for Kennametal Inc. She reported that the students she meets are often inarticulate and shy, “They seem to be way better at using technology than older people. It’s actually the content that is missing. A lot of them don’t know what to say at all, and that’s not good.”
In my lifetime, technology has been nothing short of amazing! It has had some incredibly powerful influences on our ability to communicate. We are able to communicate with almost anyone around the world at the stroke of a key. We can find information in a nano second. Email and texting allow us convenient access to our friends on our schedule, give us a simple way to connect and pass along vital information, and help family and friends remain close even though they are hundreds of miles apart. However, texting and email has also been cited as a reason communication skills have deteriorated in recent years. The use of email shorthand is one of the reasons stated. According to a recent study, 25% have used emoticons in their school writing; 50% have used informal punctuation and grammar; 38% have used text shortcuts such as “LOL” meaning “laugh out loud”.
“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.” -Hubert H. Humphrey
In a recent Harris Interactive and Teenage Research Unlimited survey, researchers found that instant messaging keeps families interconnected online, but can also lead to fewer in-person meetings, outings and less time actually talking. He said the data collected showed communicating online can be overused and is beginning to replace real-life relationships with virtual ones.
“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” -Lee Iacocca
2. People are getting lazy with info and not used to checking things out or thinking things through:
With so much information (and misinformation) a click away, many no longer do their due diligence to make sure they are passing along information that is accurate. Passing along misinformation can not only create a panic where none need exist but it can also destroy your credibility. I’ve seen large Facebook groups predicated on an untruth. When the group leaders find out their cause is invalid their group members have a hard time trusting them with any other information.
Laziness causes poor attention spans and writing skills as well. A recent story in the New York Times about the negative effects of text messaging reported statistics from the Nielsen Company showing teenagers in the United States averaged about 80 text messages per day in the fourth quarter of 2008. Text messages allow teenagers to communicate in places where cell phones are not allowed, primarily school. It’s fairly easy to hide a cell phone and text, and texting teenagers aren’t focusing on the lesson and a decreased attention span ensues. According to the University of Alabama computers and applied Technology Program 2009, “Technology Education: A Series of Case Studies,” Mrs. Diego’s 9th grade English student papers are fraught with short, choppy sentences that give no depth.
Further, many teens spend so much time texting, they are not aware of the proper uses of words or phrases and are not used to thinking things through. Here’s something I heard in the park the other day. A 14 y/o girl told her 4 y/o step sister, “Your soon-to-be father-in-law is on a plane right now.” As I listened to the conversation that followed where the older girl repeatedly used this term, it appeared that the 14 y/o was probably talking about her father who was going to adopt her step sister.
3. Increase in Rudeness and aggression:
According to Christina Durano, “Social Skills Impeded by Technology,” DailySkiff.com, “Not only do electronics hinder the development of our interpersonal communication skills, but they can also be just plain rude. Sometimes I want to grab the phone out of someone’s hands and throw it on the ground so they actually look at me during our conversation. It’s not that I think I’m so high and mighty that I actually deserve people’s attention; it’s just that there are some basic rights everyone deserves – one of which is the right to have a two-way conversation.”
Have you noticed how inconsiderate some movie goers are lately? You can’t step into a movie theater anymore without encountering a sea of cell phones backlit as their owners thumb their way through endless online games or beep-ridden text messaging. And don’t get me started on the increased aggression on forums, Yahoo groups and chats due to the anonymity of the faceless, impersonal connections made online. People feel justified in expressing anger and voicing disrespect because they don’t have to look their victims in the eye when they communicate it.
4. Hampering Friendships and social skills
There are severe disadvantages to the influence of technology on interpersonal communication. In our zest to connect with people all over the globe, we often neglect our own neighbors. Togetherness is being neglected in contradiction to the basic survival instinctual behaviors. People won’t see any need to be more physically interactive. Already it is possible to perform major activities without physical interaction — it’s even possible to exercise or engage in sporting activities with a virtual competitor.
Because of the increase in text messaging and email, some experts like Rick Pukis, an Associate Professor of Communications at Augusta State University, say texting could be affecting the way we interact.
“Text messaging has made us a very impersonal society today. They’re not communicating, not using any facial expressions, like smiling so when they get back into a situation where they’re talking to someone, they don’t smile,” said Pukis.
“Someone can whip one out in thirty seconds and they’re like, ‘Ahh, I took care of this, I communicated. You didn’t really communicate, you just shot out a one line sentence over to me and didn’t really convey any thoughts,” said Pukis.
My niece recently attended a friend’s birthday party and found herself in the middle of a texting marathon. Each girl, cell phone in hand, was texting the boys who were not present at the party and each other even though they were in the room with each other for several hours!
5. What to do?
In order for you and your family to avoid these pitfalls which can result in a serious lack of effective communication skills that can hamper your personal and professional success in life, I recommend you don’t overlook studying communication skills. Art of Eloquence has a wealth of information on our site dedicated to your success.
The Lord tells us in Proverbs 25:11, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” And remember that, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw
JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer. Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula. You can also find JoJo on web sites such as Crosswalk.com and Dr.Laura.com. For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit http://www.ArtofEloquence.com