Question: I have two children: a daughter 11- years- old and a son 13- years-old. Our 13- year- old has a cell phone and is constantly checking it and texting his friends. Now my daughter wants a cell phone, too. She uses her computer and instant messages her friends. Is all this technology going to affect my kids in some way?
Dr. Andie: The rules of social engagement have changed over the last few years and in my opinion the role of technology in our society is a major factor for this. Think about it. It's only been a relatively short few years that texting has become the mode of choice for communicating. I recently read the latest statistics on youth and texting. The average youth does 100 texts a day (girls slightly more than boys) adding up to 3,000 a month with only 230 actual phone calls. Children today aren't "speaking" they are "wording"! You ask the question if texting, IMing and other outgrowths of technology can affect children of today. The answer is yes.
Today's generations born into this techno surge can easily adapt to all of these new technologies but many neuroscientists and social scientists are beginning to feel that it can alter our brain functions. Our brains are wired for social interactions and without even thinking about it, we pick up on tone of voice, facial expressions, and body movements that give us cues on how to respond to others. Without face-to-face contact, we miss out on this important information in knowing how to communicate effectively. You know that old adage of "if you don't use it, you lose it". Our brains are sensitive to repetitive behaviors and if some of them are no longer used, our brains "prune" them out.
Parent: It sounds like these cell phones kids are using aren't really helping them communicate better even though it allows them get in touch with people quicker.
Dr. Andie: You are absolutely...