Starting the Conversation Technology, Children and Social Skills

By Marianne Reid Anderson

The avalanche of Internet, hand-held phones and devices and social websites has altered the way all of us, young and old interact with each other on a daily basis. Experts from around the world are examining how this shift is effecting our social skills, particularly with regards to children.

Ultimately, the experts say that parents need to monitor their children’s online time to make sure that it is not too long and definitely not without supervision of where exactly their children are spending their time on the Internet and with whom. But it seems to me this is not without some inherent difficulties. After all, how many of our own rules do we break? I am embarrassed to say how many times I have caught myself texting at the dinner table, checking my texts at red lights, and trying to hold a verbal conversation with a friend or colleague while texting.

Having multiple conversations at once is productive, efficient, addictive and very, very rude. One thing I do know, is that the “do as I say, not as I do” rule has never worked and never will work but can we honestly go back to a simpler time? How do we set boundaries and make dedicated face time for one-on-one relationships without slighting everyone else we are connected to?

One rule that is gaining popularity is that instead of money for chores, children earn “digital time” on any device they choose. For example, cleaning their room or unloading the dishwasher might earn your children 15 – 30 minutes on their gaming system. Which may work for children, but what should we, as adults, do to maintain our social skills?

But, as always, what do you think? Let’s continue the conversation on my blog at or email me at