A common understanding of etiquette has been drastically morphed over the years. Today's younger generation is characterized by rudeness, compared to traditional standards of etiquette. Are children substituting personal interactions for screen time?
A recent article from the New York Times claims that Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children. We know that technology is a poor substitute for personal interaction and we are only just beginning to see the effects this has on our youth. Many people believe that technology plays a central role in the decline of good manners and the media agrees.
The integration of technology and social media into nearly each and every act of interpersonal communication, particularly among young people, is changing the common understanding of what is considerate behavior and what is inappropriate.
In a 2013 policy statement on "Children, Adolescents, and the Media," the American Academy of Pediatrics cited these shocking statistics from a Kaiser Family Foundation study in 2010:
"The Average 8-to 10-year-old spends nearly 8 hours a day with a variety of media, and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day."
The less face-time our youth have with others, the less accountable they are for their behavior. If someone is rude or inappropriate online, they may never have to answer for their behavior in-person.
It is difficult to understand the virtual implications of inconsiderate treatment. With this new wave of children using electronics for their education, communication and as an extracurricular activity, we have to ask ourselves, what will the repercussions be later?
Multitasking using electronics is helping our children, but at the same time they are losing sight of what is most important; human interaction. A study published in Computers in Human Behavior found that sixth graders who went to an outdoor camp and gave up smartphones, iPads, and television cold turkey for just five days were substantially better at reading human emotions than sixth graders from the same school who did not go to the camp and gave up the digital devices.
The more time children spend glued to the screen, the harder it becomes for them to relate and connect emotionally with others. We need to teach children and adults that face to face interactions are just as important as virtual ones, before it is too late. Mobile communications and social media have re-shaped the understanding and awareness of etiquette both virtually and in-person.
We are going to have to find ways to connect with our youth and bring them out of the electronic world they are living in. During our 5-day Training, our Certified Etiquette teachers are gaining the knowledge and tools to connect with this generation.
As ASP moves forward, our main goal is to spread awareness and create a kinder environment for all. We will continue developing products that connect with our children and provide them with skill sets that allow them to succeed, build strong character and morals. In time, we will know the real implications that excessive screen time is having on our youth. For now we must push to instill manners, respect and kindness. Electronics will never be able to teach personal communication.