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Is technology harming our communication skills?

Published: Thursday, April 8, 2010

Updated: Thursday, April 8, 2010 14:04

We live in a world where communication through modern technology is prominent.  Everywhere you go, people are texting, emailing, writing blogs, tweeting and using Facebooking.  It's hard to take two steps on the University of Northern Iowa campus without seeing someone using their phone or the Internet to connect with others.

According to the 2009 Digital Future Report, 80 percent of Americans use the Internet.  The article also included that Internet users spend an average of 17 hours a week online.  The report noted "24 percent of American households have at least three computers.

Not surprisingly, the percentage of households with no computers continues to decline; in the current study only 15 percent of homes in America do not have a computer."  That's a lot of people communicating online instead of speaking face-to-face.  How many times have you been sitting at home on your computer or phone instead of talking to your family or roommates?

We have become a society that is completely dependent on our technology to communicate.  It is almost impossible for us to maintain our work life and social life without using some sort of modern-day technology to communicate ideas.
Can you imagine going a whole week without checking your Facebook or email accounts?  Would you feel totally out of the loop?  Would you feel like you had no clue what was going on with your friends, family, classes or job?  Sadly, the answer is probably yes. 

Of course this use of technology can be good — it provides us with faster and more efficient ways to communicate with others, but it is also harming our ability to communicate with people face-to-face, and sometimes, it impacts our ability to write properly.

First and foremost, technological communication may be affecting our ability to express our ideas clearly.  When you are constantly using abbreviations and slang in texts and online chats, it is hard to remember to use proper grammar when writing formal emails, letters or papers.  Technology can also harm our communication skills at work and in school.  It may be degrading our ability to speak publicly and write formally.  Think of how many professors or bosses have probably received a "cuz," "l8ter" or "cya" in an email. 

Technology can also harm our ability to deal with conflict.  These days, when you have a problem with someone, you can just send them an email or Facebook message, rather than confront them face-to-face and tell them what's wrong.  Many people in society are beginning to take the easy way out when it comes to conflict.

Finally, technology can damage our personal relationships.  When we spend so much time on our computers and phones, we lose real connection with others. According to, "we make calls on our mobiles and together send literally billions of text messages every year. We take the availability of others – and ourselves – for granted."    

Instead of having a pleasant conversation with our family, friends or significant others, we are gluing our eyes to our computer screens.
Sure technology has its benefits, but we need to take a step back and realize what it is doing to our skills and relationships. 

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