Does Digital Life Distort Our Conversation Skills?

Jacket-for-Reclaiming-Conversation

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Do our conversation skills weaken as we continually connect — virtually and physically — with our digital devices? How does this always-connected environment affect our children and youth? Are conversational and empathy skills developing as they should?

Sherry Turkle describes these problems in Reclaiming Conversation, a book that relates how the individuals in many of her interviews note — uncomfortably so — that they are less and less able to carry on a conversation confidently. More worrisome, children in general appear to be less able to converse, put themselves in another individual’s shoes, and empathize with that person. Turkle backs up her assertions with evidence.

This is a must read book for any of us who raise children, teach children, or work with parents. I have not yet read it, though it’s ordered, and I have read all the reviews and articles posted below, I know I’ll read and reread this book as I consider 21st Century digital life, digital parenting, and digital learning.

Those of us who concern ourselves with digital citizenship and digital parenting skills may need, based on what Shelly Turtle reports, to revise what we do by working to ensure that our students’ comprehend how citizenship and digital citizenship interact with one another. The two kids of life skills are not separate entities.

Turkle’s concern is not about giving up smartphones and digital devices. We can still read, text, take notes, and talk to other people via phone calls. Instead, the author argues for device moderation, that is helping parents and their kids understand that significant time spent engaging in face-to-face conversation with others and away from our devices is healthy and important. Strengthening and fine-tuning our communication skills and character. Communicating well in face-to-face situations is a significant component of our overall digital health and personal wellness.

Reviews and Other Media on Reclaiming Conversations

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