Is Conversation Dead?

By no means is it shocking to say that teenagers live on their cell phones. As a GenXer, I grew up as a teen that spent hours talking on the telephone. (The thing attached to the wall that had a cord.) I can still hear my mother yelling, “GET OFF THE PHONE NOW! Someone may be trying to call.” Yes, I used a phone to talk. That is no longer the case today. I find my teens watching videos and movies, playing video games, checking the weather, checking social media, and texting. I am the ONLY one that actually calls them to talk. As a parent and a communications coach, I have asked myself, “What has happened to the art of conversation?”

My teens refuse to talk on a phone. They tell me it’s uncomfortable and weird. I fear that face-to-face communication is being replaced with technology. My son would rather send a message via Snap Chat than use his voice to talk with someone. My kids ask me what to say when they are forced to use a phone to speak with another person. Is this generation developing “phone phobia”? Watching teens ask someone out or break up with someone by texting is an easy way out of an awkward or uncomfortable conversation. This easy way out is not preparing our youth for a work environment where a lot of difficult discussions happen face-to-face.

Our kids will need to develop the ability to talk on the phone. The workplace still uses phones to conduct business. This seems like such a basic skill, but it is a skill that a whole generation is lacking. Talking on the phone is one way of presenting yourself to others. I hope that teens will put down their cell phones and talk to one another using their voices and stop typing out their thoughts using their fingers.

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