How is online social networking websites impacting children's ability to communicate

This morning I was interviewed by Jeremy Maggs on the After 8 Debate (SAFM). The question on this debate is: are online social networking tools, such as Facebook, MXit & MySpace retarding our children’s ability to communicate? Lynne Cawood, director of Childline Gauteng and Steven Ambrose, director of World Wide Worx Strategy was also on the panel discussion via telephone. I was in studio. I never miss out on opportunities to meet the presenters/hosts in person.

Lynne Cawood stressed the proliferation of sexual images in the media and society in general. This has led to first sexual encounters occurring at younger and younger ages. Forced sexual contact has happened to about 40% of children by ages of 17 to 18 years. My own view is that cellphones/MXit is accelerating the development of relationships between teenagers in an unhealthy manner. They never learn through face to face feedback the lessons, which will become valuable later in life. And more specifically they could experience relationship burn-out as they just have nothing left to say/offer when they do get together face to face.

Steven Ambrose said that nothing in society has changes but the technology is allowing you to do same things in new ways. World Wide Worx research shows that teenagers do not even think of cellphones as technology because it’s seen as just being part of their daily lives and more of a fashion accessory for some

My talks to parents/teachers/children now include information on Facebook. In just 4 months it’s gone from 20,000 to over 250,000 users in South Africa. The number is likely much higher because not everyone is linked with the South Afican network on Facebook.

Something we didn’t address in the interview which I feel very strongly about is the growing productivity challenges for companies with soaring use of the Internet / cellphones in the workplace. This could cost the economy over a R1 billion over the next 12 month in lost hours from employees goofing off during work time.

 

Author: RJ Thomas

RJ Thomas is an International Relationship Builder. He was born in South Africa, and moved to China in 2013.

  • I’m pretty ignorant of what the current school curriculum consists of, but perhaps schools should include online safety and etiquette as part of a life skills course, if they don’t already.