This winter I spend some time with my young nephews in Ontario who I had not seen for over a year. One thing that was new since my last visit was that they both had tablets and video games that occupied much of their time. Now whenever I spoke to them, it felt like I was competing for their attention with their technology.
Even when they weren’t using their tablets they made little eye contact and often answered in monosyllables with a lack of animation. This saddened me because I felt like I had lost connection with them.
Before the invention of video games and social media, people would spend quality time engaged in conversation. Now it’s becoming a lost art and many younger people struggle with things we used to take for granted like making eye contact and being fluent in reading people’s body language.
While having access to instant information online is a tremendous advantage, we need to balance our online time with face time because conversation is something that needs to be practised continually or we risk becoming rusty and robotic.
Parents have been asking us for help in teaching manners and conversation skills to their children, as they fear they are losing the ability to be engaged and engaging. Now that I have seen the problem first hand, I understand that need. Our social skills for kids workshops are designed to provide them with hands on skills practice so they learn from an early age how to converse with grownups and each other.