Updated: Jan 8, 2019
The fourth of the five dimensions of human development is social.
We live in a social media immersed world populated with numerous virtual friends and yet, the absence of basic social skills has never been more apparent. The situation presents a number of important questions:
What happens to children who grow up with gadget dependencies?
How will they ever develop basic social skills by staring at a phone in order to avoid making eye contact? (Conversation takes practice and an over-reliance on devices makes it that much more difficult for children who are already struggling socially).
Moreover, how will they develop the focus required by good conversation to listen to other people...especially when they are tethered to the constant electronic activity of the cyber world?
Melissa Ortega, a child psychologist at the Child Mind Institute in New York offered this insight for parents:
Despite the rise of digital communication, adolescents need to know how to converse. I can’t imagine these kids sitting down in an interview and having a reciprocal conversation easily. They haven’t had these years of learning about awkward pauses. Being able to tolerate the discomfort is not something they’re going to be used to, unless their parents make it a priority.
We are naturally social beings. Therefore, building relationships and finding our place within community is just as important as developing our individual identity. Part of building and keeping friendships is learning the importance of maintaining healthy boundaries.
Understanding these boundaries enable us to successfully navigate the inevitable conflicts of human interaction. However, boundaries alone are not enough. We also need to cultivate the virtues of humility + honesty + love in order to enjoy healthy relationships.
And, there is no such thing as healthy relationships without good listening skills. It is becoming increasingly rare to converse with people who are able to listen attentively without interruption…OR without tuning you out while they wait for you to finish talking so they can respond.
It may sound overly simplistic, but so many conflicts could be avoided, and so many relationships could be enriched, by simply giving people our undivided ears.
My next post will highlight some ways you can engage your children in the fifth and final dimension of human development...physical.