Is face to face (F2F) communication redundant? Many of my students think so. To them, emailing and texting through Facebook or Twitter are more effective and gratifying ways of communication. Anything else is perceived as an inefficient use of their time.
I disagree with them completely. F2F communication allows young people to practice interpersonal skills. Without these skills, they lose the ability to effectively communicate and interact with people, both individually and in groups outside their digital life.
My primary concern is that a number of teenagers cannot endure a basic conversation without some type of mobile device in their hands. Many of them avoid direct eye contact and have trouble with listening attentively. There is a compulsion to constantly text, email, or tweet while taking part in a conversation. I am concerned that these habits will not serve my students well in a work environment where their employers, colleagues, or clients expect them to carry-out an “in-person” conversation. And, a number of them will not be able to carry out this simple task.
There are a growing number of educators – like myself – who believe that kids should offset their digital learning time with technology “free” class time. It is important for schools to give children opportunities to “time-out” from technology. During technology free time, teachers should engage students in activities that develop their listening and speaking competencies without technology distractions.
It is still important for all students to understand that people communicate with people, and technology only transmits data. And, face to face interactions still occur in the 21st-century.