There was a time when cell phones didn’t exist and people actually had to go to the library to do research, talk to people face-to-face, and even eat their food — rather than merely take photos of it.
Now we have smartphones which are meant to simplify life, all while making things more efficient.
Nice thought, but there is one problem. How do we deal with children who are so comfortable with emoticons and abbreviated speech that they struggle with life outside of their phones?
The communication barriers
One of the best features of a smartphone is its ability to autocorrect any word. This is great when you’re typing a message or email and just can’t take the time necessary to focus on spelling.
The problem is that most teenagers are now struggling to write school essays and reports because their vocabulary is limited and their spelling—without the help of autocorrect—is unimpressive, to say the very least.
According to the Pew Research Center, over 42% of teenagers who rely on technology have a shorter attention span while over 48% struggle with grammar.
This is largely due to technology where most words via text are abbreviated, leading teens to ignore the correct spelling altogether. Unfortunately, this causes most teens to rely heavily on their smartphones to communicate effectively.
When pictures replace words
We all love emoticons! Without providing a long-winded explanation of how we feel, we can simply send a facial expression that will quickly do it for us. Not happy? Don’t bother explaining those feelings! Just send an emoticon of a sad face and the recipient of your message will get the gist immediately.
This is the society that we live in and this is the world in which your children are most familiar. Teenagers are becoming so accustomed to sending an emoticon to share their feelings that they are now struggling to communicate those feelings with words. The Pew Research Center shared a study that revealed over 37% of teenagers struggled to express themselves without the assistance of the features on their smartphones.
Smartphones equal lazy teens
Many parents complain that their children spend more time on their video games than they do outside. Failing to get appropriate exercise, as well as failing to get occasional fresh air, contributes to both laziness and unhappiness.
According to the American Psychological Association, “adolescents spending a small amount of time on electronic communication were the happiest.” Depression is linked to a lack of exercise among teenagers and is increasing with each passing year. Unfortunately, the current attachment most kids have to their smartphone is harming more than their inability to effectively communicate: it’s harming their mental health.
Technology contributes to our ability to do more in less time, which is great. It also allows children the opportunity to explore the world without even leaving their house. It is our responsibility as parents to make sure that the benefits of smartphone usage outweigh the disadvantages when we look at what’s best for our children. It’s truly the only way to ensure their future success…both in health and in literacy.