Communication Skills and Your Teen: Texting verses Talking

Texting is how the majority of teens communicate.

But how will they survive in a college interview?

In a face to face job interview?

Some universities no longer include public speaking on their list of required core courses, but the current rate of teen texting may require further training in face-to-face communication skills.

According to a 2011 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center on teens, smartphones and texting, 77% of 12 to 17-year-olds have a cell phone, with 23% of them owning a smartphone. The bulk of ownership was concentrated among the older crowd (14-17 years old), and the choice of communication for all age groups was texting.

Only 39% of teens surveyed say they actually use their cell phone to make phone calls. Even more disturbing, only 35% say they speak to their friends face to face outside of school. While we know that kids haven’t stopped communicating with one another (75% of all teens who own a cell phone text on a regular basis), texting as a primary form of communication may be a cause for concern.

Besides the safety issues related to texting while driving (26% of teens say they text while driving), texting as a means of communication can also spell trouble for basic speaking skills. Inherently, texting was meant to be a short, quick way to send information to someone.

For example, the location, date and time of a meeting or the phone number of a client, but when the younger crowd gained possession of cell phones, texting became a replacement for the good old-fashioned phone call.

There are some benefits of having a conversation via text; you can think about what you want to say before texting, and you can send information to multiple friends at once. However, there are negative things about texting, too. For example, if your conversation is extensive, it will take longer through texting than through a phone call.

Also, texting over your limit can cost you hundreds of dollars in extra charges. But the main problem with teens choosing texting as their primary form of communication is the lack in proper grammar, spelling and word usage.

Not that language use among average American teens has ever been at proficient levels, but the current use of texting certainly can’t be helping the situation. Most teenagers have always been a little shaky when it comes to proper salutations and professional face-to-face dialogue, but texting is the metaphorical end of the rope when it comes to spelling and choice of words.

In fact, if we could get a manuscript of an average teen’s text conversation, it would more than likely mostly contain the abbreviation LOL and the words OK, cool and like…and not much else. In addition to spelling and grammar issues, texting could also be weakening the average person’s ability to “think fast,” because it allows you to respond slowly.

It’s not that today’s teens are less intelligent than those who came before them, but they certainly aren’t practicing their language skills on a regular basis. If America is to become a more adept society, parents must start teaching the importance of proper verbal and written communication. After all, you can’t conduct a job interview or present a business proposal via text. We owe it to our children to demand a little less texting and a lot more talking.

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