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Talk to your children, don’t text them

The results of a survey of 2000 parents, released yesterday, reveal that half of them choose to text, ‘phone or email family members, rather than speak to them, even when they are in the same house.

I’ve long suspected that modern technology is having a detrimental effect on the communication skills of young people – how many families have you observed, each focusing on their electronic device rather than interacting with each other? Why are so many parents asking me to work with their children? Here’s some hard evidence to support my theory.

Face to face communication is a subtle skill, learned from our earliest years by observing others and by testing out different styles and strategies. It’s about structuring arguments, understanding your audience, using language appropriately, eye contact, and much more. It is not acquired by osmosis, nor is it a god-given gift. I know this from the adults I work with who need to, and succeed in sharpening up their skills.

If children are not given the tools to be effective communicators, how will they learn to persuade us to give them more sweets; stay up later; wear THAT outfit? The art of persuasion is a key life skill, which they will use every single day of their adulthood, in one way or another.

If we deny them the opportunity to learn those skills, we’re doing them a serious disservice.