Do children spend too much time on their mobile phones, electronic games and computers? Is this just part of growing up in our world of electronic gadgets? Do these devices help build good relationships or hinder the development of interpersonal skills?
As I drove through the city, I saw two children walking together. One texted on a cell phone and the other played a Game Boy or a device. They went together, but they didn’t talk to each other. Later that day, I heard one teenager scream to another, “Don’t come here, send me an e-mail or text me.”
Before these electronic devices were invented, children communicated and used their time differently. In my youth, my friends and I were always looking for some kind of physical activity or table games. In the colder months we had sleigh rides and other winter activities. Some may even say that the exercise has helped prevent the childhood obesity problems that some of today’s children face with electronic devices. A well developed finger muscle acquired by playing an electronic game is not a great physical workout!
We spoke on the landline, but we had personal conversations most of the time. All these activities accidentally taught us some interpersonal skills. Some of the activities, such as football, have taught us that you can be a star yourself, but working as a team has won the game.
People can use electronic devices to communicate with other people. This allows interaction even when the other people are not physically present. Players will claim that teamwork is required to win some of the activities, and that includes interpersonal skills.
Is electronic participation as good as attendance? It’s a question of opinion. We all see our world through our own lens or life experience. It is possible to learn interpersonal skills in many ways. The development of these interpersonal skills makes us aware of human behavior – good and bad.
Critics say that electronic devices have enabled criminals to interact in a new way. They commit crimes with prepaid cell phones and allow criminal activities with children over the Internet. Others counter by saying that the security factor achieved by the presence of a mobile phone is worth all peripheral problems. Internet safeguards and monitoring can protect children from those who want to harm them. In addition, law enforcement uses many electronic devices to apprehend criminals.
One could conclude that electronic gadgets have never been out of sight. People who live in remote areas can communicate with other people for pleasure or in emergencies. Children can attend a cyber school instead of a traditional school and receive their education via the Internet. Both include some interpersonal skills, but does a picture taken through a computer or voice on a mobile phone allow the same level of interpersonal skills development? Again, it depends on your point of view.