Mobile devices are destroying human conversation. Get over it.

human conversation

In this post, I am going to provide some extremely weird and unexpected advice, but I need to scare the crap out of you first.

Nearly every day, there are new warnings about exposing kids to too much “screen time.” Research shows excessive screen time may lead to

… to name a few concerns. The ubiqituous mobile device has replaced face-to-face human conversation, upended family dynamics, and challenged traditional views of relationships.

I recently had the opportunity to hear author and academic Sherry Turkle talk about her new book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. In her speech, she lamented the passing of our conversation culture, drawing comparisons to the good old days when author Henry David Thoreau said he needed three chairs in his cabin, one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.

Turkle pointed to research proving that the mere presence of a mobile device was a deterrent to conversation.

She issued an passioned call to a return to human conversation. Supported by research and reason, she pleaded with the audience to wake up and return to a day of human conversation.

And as she presented this practical appeal, here’s what was running through my head. “You need to get over it.”

We’re not going back

Instead of dwelling on how things used to be, we need to embrace the reality of now. No matter how worried we are about the societal implications of mobile use, most families are never going back to the days of screen-free dinner time conversation about politics and books.

Of course parents need to take steps to limit how and when mobile devices are used. But I could make an argument that we should also ENCOURAGE the frequent and intelligent use of mobile devices. Sound weird? Consider:

  • A recent report stated that screen time is an established norm in many youth cultures, presenting significant barriers to behavior change. There is severe pressure on teens to fit in and be accepted (remember those days?). If you take some draconian and fearful approach to limiting screen time, you may be also creating additional pressure to your teen’s socialization and development.
  • Turkle issues a plea for a return to conversation. But today, text messaging and Snapchat posts ARE THE CONVERSATION. This is the new dialogue, and more important, it is also the future dialogue. Embrace that.
  • Imagine the workplace of the near future where young employees have been conditioned for decades to manage relationships, conversations, and conflict via short text messages. The ability to manage these connections effectively will be a competitive advantage. I know it sounds weird but people who DON’T use mobile devices a lot may be lost in the work world of the next few years.
  • And even though parents recognize the importance of reducing youth screen time, increasingly, they are unable to model and promote human engagement themselves. We like constant screen access, too, don’t we?

This is just the beginning

Like Turkle, my heart thumps “Oh no” when I envision the coming cold, digital world. Look at what we’re losing.

But my head can also recognize that this ubiqiuitous glowing screen is our drug, our friend, our psychological safety net … and we’re never putting it down.

In fact, the move away from human conversation will soon be getting worse. Much, much worse.

A major economic force of our world is attention. Attention sells ads, absorbs data time, sells power-ups for popular games. Do you think these economic forces will conspire to make the mobile device more addictive, or less addictive, in the future? We are just at the very beginning of the mobile era.

In the near future, Facebook will be rolling out amazing new consumer applications for its Oculus technology. We will be immersed in a breath-taking 3D world of conversations, sex, entertainment, and games. There is no question that within a few years, we will be spending most of our day — in business and at home — with a headset wrapped around our cranium.


So if you’re concerned about the fact that you can’t seem to put your mobile device down … well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

And here’s my advice: Deal with it. There’s no going back.

Human conversation is a luxury

The age of face-to-face human conversation is waning. There may be a little backlash here and there (the resistance movement), but in the end, the intoxication of connection, conformity, and FOMO will win, as it always has.

There is a little voice inside of me cheering on Sherry Turkle and her call for a return to conversation. I thrive on close, deep conversations with friends.

But I also know Dr. Turkle is merely shouting into the face of a hurricane. Her voice, no matter how principled and correct, will make little difference in this gale.

The hurricane will win. The hurricane will permanently alter everything in its path. The hurricane may even make us forget what it meant to be really human.

And we will just have to find new ways to adapt, adopt, and deal with the destruction.

Your thoughts?

mark schaefer

Top illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Pabak Sarkar

Second illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Sergey Galyonkin

Book link is affiliate link.

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  • Todd Lyden

    Been having this discussion periodically since the advent of printing press, right?

  • Michael Miller

    Sadly, Mark, I think you’re right about the hurricane, but I don’t think that means we should get over it. Not where raising children is concerned. I don’t think any of the “resistance” will alter the current of change. There I agree with you. I do think each individual is worth saving. I’ve read the research of what screen time does to a growing brain. I’ve read how video games completely rewire neural connections. My wife, as a high school teacher, sees everyday the impact this screened world has on kids. For some, it’s devistating. I think the bit of added social pressure a child may face being removed from this world is greatly outweighed by the benefits. In the long run it will serve them well. They’ll be more creative, better able to focus and think deeply about a subject. They’ll be the outliers who lead the next generation of drones. It won’t change the future. It will change them and that’s worth it.

    Steve Jobs never let his kids have iPads. Silicon Valley parents send their kids in droves to technology-free schools. Resistance is not, entirely, futile.

  • Yup. For my generation, it was the TV. However, this IS different. Research shows when kids are socialized by screens they are literally wired differently. This is new territory.

  • I sincerely hope you are correct. Thanks for the very throughtful and passionate comment Michael.

  • MaureenMonte

    It is an interesting conundrum. I have a nearly 10 year old nephew who lives in the remote part of the upper peninsula of Michigan, and he’s been raised without a TV. For a long time, he thought Google was used to search for an RV to purchase. He uses a computer to write programs and diagram user interfaces but doesn’t know about FB or Twitter. He programs lego thingys to follow a laser beam across the floor. He talks to me about neutrinos (particle physics) and HGV trains in Europe. He knows how to create products on the 3-d printer they have at their home. He doesn’t and likely won’t have a cell phone for some time to come. It’s an interesting blend of using technology for learning and outcomes rather than using technology as a social outlet. I agree that for our generation, it was the TV. I think one difference is the level of violence on television, video games, and movies, that weren’t present on “Lassie.” We also didn’t have the pharma companies sharing their solutions for things like erectile dysfunction. I don’t have children, but I can’t imagine watching a sports event with a child and then having to explain the intricacies of the various “adult” disorders blared through the TV between plays. I think at this point I am rambling. I agree it will not change, I agree it is a worthy battle to fight the hurricane, but few have the will to do so. The hurricane will win – it always does. Great post, as always, my friend.

  • We have to accept both the good and the bad of our new state of affairs. Yes, I have a rule that devices need to be down during dinner. But texting has also allowed my extended family to have a constant, flowing group conversation going where my kids can share pics of their trick-or-treating immediately with grandparents. We all just need to stop panicking and remember that the machines are our servants; we are the masters of our own relationships.

  • Todd Lyden

    I’d bet if the research was done then, it would not be too dissimilar.
    how each new method of communication “re-wired” our collective brains.
    the sad reality is the digital divide that still exists within the states and at a global scale

  • Not true. I encourage you to dig into the research, especially on post-Millenials who have had screens in their face since the cradle. It is quite disturbing. We are raising a generation unable to recognize facial cues, for example. This is different.

  • Thanks for the interesting story Maureen.

  • … at least for the moment.

  • Todd Lyden

    Disturbing? Just different. A new form of “literacy”

  • jamesdearsley

    I often talk on this topic Mark and state that the future of marketing is all about Innovation, Interaction and Immersion. I would say the same goes for general conversation too.

    I would say we are in the calm before the storm and conversation is still relatively physical in nature. Social Media has made it somewhat virtual but it is still, for the most part, interacting in the written space.

    The battle between two of the globe largest companies (FB and Google) for VR hardwear and the fact that most people have smartphones in their pockets means the reciprocal for VR content is very much here.

    I usually state that social media has improved global conversation, my bet is that VR will go some way to helping solve it.

  • Shel Holtz

    The idea that mobile devices are replacing human conversation is silly. Consider, for example, why teens opt for tools like WhatsApp instead of Facebook: It’s so they can maintain the relationships with their tight circle of friends when they’re not together having conversations without their messages being seen by people outside that circle. And why is Snapchat so popular with kids? According to surveys, it’s because Snapchat comes closest to real conversation. Mobile devices do two things that are not replacing human conversation: It’s supplementing human conversation (allowing it to go on even when you can’t have a face-to-face or voice-to-voice conversation) and it’s enabling us to find new people to have conversations with. (How many people have you and I gotten to know through these networks whom we never would have met without them?)

  • Shel Holtz

    And it’s such a NEW phenomenon, isn’t it?

  • Thank you for this ‘spot on’ POV. I spend a lot of time defending teens against the Henny Penny’s of the world – including their own grandparents. We’re a tech house here and while there are certain “no device” times mandated by me (dinner for instance), for the most part – my teens know when to put them away. I don’t even have to tell them. A lot of parents and adults are looking at it the wrong way and in fact, are missing out on a great opportunity to communicate with their teens on their terms. I know there have been some topics that my kids may have been nervous or uncomfortable to broach face to face, but were able to initiate it via text. Once they felt comfortable, we moved it to face-to-face.

    Maybe I need you to come be MY guest on the Ten to Twenty Podcast and share the same wisdom with my parent listeners 😉

  • LimorShiponi

    Ask young people willing to listen and speak their real mind and they will tell you – about social pressure to keep up, about the endless buzz and the stress it creates, about the initial shock of being exposed to murder on-line, bullying and shaming, about suicide. They know the benefits of technology, they also know most adults are not telling them the truth about what is really going on behind all this and what they need to learn and do about it. I don’t know if you’re ok with sharing links in comments. If you are, I’ll link to a personal experience I had at Boulder High. Regards,

  • In some ways, yes. Agree.

  • The book I mentioned, and this post, are not about conversation in general. In fact, I agree with you and point that out. However, our notion of human dialogue and conversation (the Thoreau example used in the post) is forever being changed. No question. And research conclusively shows kids are being wired differently, which is a first. They will think and act and respond differently than any other generation. One study showed post-Millenials have trouble recognizing facial cues. This is a new day.

    Thanks for the comment Shel. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

  • Any time. Thanks for commenting Kristen!

  • Thanks for your anecdotes Limor.

  • Robin Harina

    Mobile devices even the playing field, make extroverts out of introverts and help people actually stand up for what they believe in and rally for causes. I call that progress in a time when apathy has dominated. It also connects the remote and brings to light issues that need discussion. I’m all for it. Face to face conversation will become art and art is always a good thing.

  • It’s called change and yeah, we need to deal with it. My grandmother was born in 1898. She went from horse and carriage to seeing a man walk on the moon to computers. She adapted. I always feel sad she didn’t live long enough for some of the tech. It would have enabled her to keep reading (when she could no longer hold a book up) and she’d have loved FaceTime. I agree, there is no going back. My personal plan, if there is a zombie apocalypse, is to go down fast because I don’t want to live in a world without WiFi. (grin)

  • Great comment Robin. Many thanks!

  • Ha!! That may actually be happening (the wifi part). Ted Koppel has a new book out about the vulnerability of the electrical grid in the US. He says it is a matter of time before large sections of the country go dark for extended periods of time. That would be bad. Plus, no wifi : )

  • When Hurricane Ike hit Houston, the power went fast. We weren’t out for as long as a lot of people, but it sure made me realize how NOT self reliant I actually am. haha Everything I wanted to do required power. You can get solar chargers and such, but that doesn’t keep the Wifi on. So yeah, planning to go down fast. I’ll be out looking for something to eat my brain. haha

  • In a funny aside, Ted Koppel interviewed some people here in Cody, where I currently am, about survival strategies. My sister and I were talking about it on our walk this morning. Is that a snap or what?

  • Shel Holtz

    The introduction of the telephone in every home had a similar impact. The nature of conversation has evolved with new technologies among the catalysts. Mobile is just the latest in a centuries-long series of such catalysts. Somehow, I suspect we’ll survive.

  • Human conversation online are not just possible, they are sometimes better. Thanks to technology, I can talk to friends I might not see for years.

    When we do meet face to face (which technology allows us to do more often) we can skip the data transfer and go deeper.

    Not a luxury. Everyone can have an abundance of connections and real conversations now.

  • Thanks for your comment Warren!

  • Hmm. For the book?

  • I am familiar with the societal upheaval provided by the train, the phone, the camera, the television. But I am convinced this is profoundly different. Sure, the easy response is “we’ll survive somehow” (after all we always have) but if you spend time with the data associated with extended exposure to screens I think you will be a little less casual about the impacts. We never had to create hospitals to deal with telephone addiction. There are two hospitals in Germany that now specialize in screen-related addictions (games, social media etc). I know this for a fact because my friend’s son was in one of these facilities for nine months. Telephones did not re-wire the pre-teen brain.

  • Shel Holtz

    I’m enjoying the conversation, Mark. And we’re in agreement for the most part. I would, however, point out that video games were rewiring teen brains decades before we went mobile (studies revealed that before there were mobile devices on which we could share those study results!). Also, I would suggest that the rewiring of teen brains and the nature of conversation are two separate (if tangentially related) issues.

  • Yeah. I know one of the people quoted. haha

  • Meg Tripp

    At the same time as we’re all glued to screens, there’s a real push across the cultural / food / retail world to create things and experiences that seem quite divorced from technology. Old methods of growing / selling / preparing / cooking food, “old school” cocktail recipes / brewing / winemaking, antiquated instruments creating “roots” music, handicrafts of all kinds (clothing, furniture, jewelry, printmaking) that don’t depend on sophisticated machines for manufacturing, and so on.

    Then again, we sell these items on Etsy. Or we discover farm-to-table restaurants on Yelp / blogs. We connect with musicians on Spotify or Apple Music or even YouTube. We make letterpress business cards with our Twitter handles.

    To me, there’s always been a push-pull with technology that’s equal parts fascinating and scary, but I love this juxtaposition of the old and new (even if hipsters love it, too 😉 and the access and opportunity it affords me.

    I met my husband on Twitter, but I cook for him every night on old cast iron pans using techniques that are anything but new. I even cobbled a recipe together yesterday from Epicurious and my Nonna’s old, flour-laden paper cookbook. I write in notebooks made from handcrafted paper and cross-index my lists on Evernote. I’m sending an email to gather addresses for our paper Christmas cards in a month. I’m watching my 60-something parents drive across a province via Facebook, taking pictures of mountains and lakes I remember from my childhood.

    I think we have to know the risks and appreciate the benefits, both, to really say we have our eyes open. I can leave my phone lying around and ignored for long periods of time, but then I can pick it up and take a picture of the sunset to share online with hundreds of people I’ve met — in the flesh.

    I understand the fear and I push myself toward balance.

  • pretty cool

  • When kids are having trouble recognizing human facial cues, this suggests to me fundamental conversational skills have been altered. Yes, the conversations will still be there in some form but I don’t think there is any question this will be a new kind of brain emerging in this generation … as I say in my post, no going back so let’s learn about this and accept it.

  • jeanniecw

    I agree with you on almost every point. I watch my nieces and nephews communicate with new tools and recognize it in the same way my friends and I would pass notes. AND these new tools allow me to have more access to their lives and feel more connected to them, even across the miles. My kids are growing up with access to tools we couldn’t even imagine. How cool is that!? Yes, we have limits and use common sense, but restricting completely would be limiting their lives in ways we don’t understand yet, either. Great post, Mark!

  • Lovely post. You are a gifted writer my friend.

  • Thanks so much for the great comment Jeannie!

  • It’s not Kevin Bacon, but that’s like two degrees from Ted, right? haha

  • Mark,

    Sadly, I have to agree with you.

    As a fellow academic, you have likely witnessed the inability of students to completely disconnect during our classes. [perhaps this is more of a problem for my undergrad millennials than those that you teach]

    Some of my colleagues have actually banned the use of laptops and smartphones in the classroom due to their distractions and the constant effort to keep them off Facebook.

    However, as the professor teaching digital marketing and social media marketing in my department, it does not seem right to ban digital devices from these classes.

    Alternatively, for the last several semesters I have attempted to embrace and encourage digital device use during my classes by regularly asking questions encouraging them to google it and find the answer. As a result, more students now sit fingers ready to be the first to answer these questions.

    I also regularly call on specific teams to find an answer and report the results in comparison to the answer from another team….basically a competition.

    This also works for finding answers from a Twitter search, a Quora search, etc. I have even asked different teams to do a mini-sentiment analysis of what people are feeling or saying about a particular digital topic in the news.

    In conclusion, the real-time use of digital devices have actually made my classes more fresh and interesting.

    Though I doubt this method would work around a family dinner table or a business meeting. Or, would it?


  • Aisha Sultan

    There are layers and types of engagement (conversation). Digital natives are fluent at a young age in interactions mediated through a screen. These tend to be more one dimensional interactions. They need practice the face-to-face skills, as well. Research suggests that the intimacy of real-life friendship (as opposed to IG or FB friendship) is rooted in the importance of touch — platonic human contact — in strengthening human connections.
    Give your children at least 15 minutes a day of your undivided face-to-face attention. Take note of how comfortably they communicate face-to-face with their friends, strangers and other adults. If they are struggling, cut down on the screen time and create more opportunities for conversation with people. Human are social animals, but we also need practice to develop emotional intelligence, which is also critical to long-term success in life.

  • Some communications may be changing, thanks to mobiles you can call or message to check a location. That communication didn’t exist before mobiles. When meeting with friends, sure its an interruption to a classic conversation, but there are new norms on what’s acceptable. Can I check it every minute whilst we’re talking? Maybe not.

    Perhaps we should consider that the number of conversations has increased, and that many of these new communications use a new medium. Meaning new etiquettes.

    Face to face conversations have evolved, but they’re still relevant. If anything I believe their value has increased tremendously, as people appreciate the value of your physical presence & time over that of an email, or a tweet.

  • Very, very interesting comment Denny. A great blog post in its own right. I think you’re right. There is no going back so we need to find ways to embrace it. Generally the grad classes I teach don’t have too many digital distractions. However I did a an undergrad lecture a few months ago and a few people were constantly texting (and then passing their phone around to others to show them the screen). If I had to put up with that in the classroom every day it would drive me nuts! : )

  • Great comment Aisha and I hope parents are spending more than 15 minutes a day interacting with their kids! Much appreciated.

  • Well said sir. Thanks for adding your perspective to the conversation.

  • This write up is so timely, @markwilliamschaefer:disqus ~ wanted to gift a Smartphone to my Sis on her Birthday. Yes, she’s that dinosaur with that ‘phone with a pager on it’! But I can understand her point too. She manages life perfectly well without emails, WhatsApp and what have you. She is a reader. She cherishes conversations and people. But yes, people of her ilk will probably be outnumbered by Eskimos soon..
    Change of this scale is often greeted with apprehension~ but eventually the eternal truth prevails: Change is the only constant.
    We must adapt to it or get washed away by the Tsunami.
    Looking forward with excitement to your Master Class on Nov.14 in Mumbai!

  • Great comment sir. Look forward to meeting you in India soon!

  • Thank you, Mark! I am doing my bit to spread awareness about the significance of your visit to those who are not tuned in out here.
    (Spreading the word on good old Social Media, where else?) There we go again !!

  • Allen Blair

    Agree. In fact, for those of us who grew up in the TRS-80 age (remember creating your own BBS), we’re salivating over social media, and iPads and apps!

    The real conversation should be how to teach children to best utilize media and devices – hey, I use ello to keep up with the fiction writing and creative community, making like-minded friends; and I use Facebook to keep up with family now scattered across the country and old classmates I thought I would never hear from again. Trick is to teach, and learn, when to turn them off and go outside and play!

  • Many thanks. Much appreciated.

  • A step toward the singularity I suppose.

  • Let’s hope so. Many thanks for sharing your wisdom today sir.

  • Kitty Kilian

    Did you not enjoy your month off of social media last year or so?

  • I would tend to agree with you @warrenwhitlock:disqus~
    Social Media has gifted me with mentors and thinkers of great clarity, insight and intellect. As you mentioned, conversations have actually been better in terms of communication!

    The sheer cross-culture of ideas and sensibilities makes the social tapestry richer. The downside is that emotional connect happens better face to face, more often than not.

    On balance, I feel change is inevitable. Adapting to it sensibly and working it to our benefit is the key.

  • Sure did : )

  • Great post, great comments thread, and it really made me think for a couple of days. This is what it comes down to for me: 1) Looking at our own kids who are all probably exposed to above average allowed screen time, I have a great and unwavering faith in their ability to adapt to this new reality. 2) The current screens that we carry with us everywhere surely must be a clunky first step on the way to a more seemless way for humans to interact with the digital space. We will probably laugh (or cry) looking back on the era of early smartphone enthusiasm. 3) Going way out on a limb here: Maybe in a generation, humans relying on assistance from machine intelligens, will be able to read physical social clues from others with a higher degree of sophistication that ever before in history, and maybe our current non-enhanced (also often clunky) social skills will seem barbaric to anyone born into that age. 4) I realize that I have probably strayed too far into camp techno optimist here..

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  • Very interesting. Techno-assisted emotional interpretation. Yes, that sure wold have helped years ago on the datung scene! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with the community Kristian. Very thought-provoking post.

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  • Manuela Nikui

    Good post. Mobile devices are sometimes unvoluntarily “enriching” conversation e.g. in public transportation when people let everybody participate in their partly confidential conversations. I remember a train ride and a person talking about how to fire someone, mentioning the person’s name. And they sometimes make conversations easy: by just pushing a send button you don’t get in touch with your counterpart’s reaction.
    What is missing in my view is a reasonable dealing with it, and the awareness that they are NOT replacing human conversation, just complementing it.

  • Late to this post, but as always Mark, I value the big picture perspective you take to things.

    3 years ago, I moved my family from the suburbs of Denver, to a mountain town in north Idaho. I own two creative firms in Colorado that made this possible, and certainly don’t take it for granted.

    Part of the impetus for this move was to slow down. To simplify life for our kids as they grew up. To build tree-houses, hike and go camping. To ditch smart phones, the Joneses mentality, and simply reconnect with one another. Which we’ve done.

    Perhaps it’s my work, perhaps it’s the fact that our kids homeschool online, but bit by bit, we’ve been pulled back in by technology. It was inevitable, and so I agree with your post.

    Technological innovation has a gravitational pull that is largely inescapable.

    So while we now live on a mountain and have taken more steps than most to distance ourselves from the pull, we still take walks and pictures with our smartphones. We enjoy The Voice and then step outside to drink in an unmasked Milky Way Galaxy. We roast marsh-mellows and share to Facebook.

    And all of it is good. We live the life we dreamed, but are connected locally and globally enough to share it.

    It’s not either / or. It’s both.


    Thankfully for all the adults on this thread, you grew up in a time when you learned how to communicate face to face, and weren’t spending 7-9 hours a day in front of a screen. You benefitted immensely from learning how to do things, play and communicate the “old school” way (read the book Play by Stuart Brown for more great info on that subject). I love technology and see it for the wonderful tool that it is, but our kids will not benefit the way that we did. They are being subjected, and inundated with constant digital distractions and will ( and do) struggle with the physical, emotional and behavioral side effects that come with screen overuse. So, parents really don’t need to embrace screens, but manage and limit their use for their children. This way their kids will benefit, the way that we did, and hopefully see tech as a tool and not a constant source of entertainment. BTW, my son in college says that most of his professors will not allow laptops and smart phones in the classroom anymore, too distracting from the subject at hand and no real learning possible with the gadgets. Good for them!

  • Sorry for being so late to this party but I’ve got to agree with Rosemary here. People will (and are) learning to leverage these new extensions of our physical being and those who do will be just fine. The fundamentals have not changed, just the tools to execute them.

  • Danielle G. Conte

    Interesting post. I agree with the ‘never going back’ part about people spending their time in front of a screen, but I also can’t help but look at recent economic shifts with how people are spending their money: on experiences. Some say the decision to spend money on experiences, rather than things, are behavior shifts coming out of the 2008 recession, but I can’t help but think the desire to have experiences through human connection is partly due to our desire to possibly offset (some of that) screen time. Maybe people also just want “less stuff.” As one of my economic professors used to say, always follow the money (and I’d add …AND how people spend their time.)

  • Wow. Can I just tell you…while I was in graduate school for Communication, I took a course that heavily analyzed and discussed forms of new media, augmented reality, interactivity & simulation, etc. I also & read two books that directly relate to this post: Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together & Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. Not only did we discuss these at length, I also wrote a review on the latter…this is a paragraph from that review:

    “The most important message to receive from this book is that for all the resources and benefits our technology provides, there are serious individual and societal consequences that should be considered. In addition to new neural pathways in our brain devoted to scanning, skimming and multitasking, our pathways devoted to deep reading and concentration, knowledge acquisition, critical thinking, imagination and reflection are dying. A statement that Carr provided seemed to sum it up effectively, “As we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.” Basically, the more distracted we become, the less human we become.”

  • Hansa Sachdeva

    Great read… The digital disruption in how we communicate is real and it is here to stay. But so is the value creation, helping us to reach more people, more effectively. The result is less conversation, but more communication and sharing. That’s why we have all taken to new age communication – skyping with kids who are away from home, rediscovering friends and using chat at work to connect to remote teams.
    Let’s not forget that communication is never as easy as it looks. New channels and new vocabularies are a mark of the evolution of communication and pose new challenges that we will learn to deal with.

  • There’s a balance between the wonderful wider world of digital conversation and retreating into a world where you rarely connect or converse with real people face to face.

    Virtual conversations open people up and connect them with people they would never normally meet or engage with. For some, it’s given them the chance to connect in ways they feel more comfortable with or may not be able to get out and meet normally. It’s still a human at the other end.

    There are good and bad aspects. We’re all familar with people, couples and kids who ignore the real person in front of them while firmly attached to their mobile device. As long as you respect the person with whom you’re having a conversation virtual or otherwise and you’re not ‘addicted’ to what’s happening onscreen. It definitely helps to have boundaries around usage – both where and for how long.

  • Great comment Clare.

  • jason

    i think its becoming a world of more permanent blindness and hearing loss in the coming age…and you are saying you are not going back to the good old days of happy human conversation? how can you say that? The more mobile devices on the market , the more electricity we use , how can we adopt to such a foolish idea…take for example an ebook. How can you adopt an idea of reading a book online or powered by electricity as compared to reading a physical book with no additional cost to you? And what about your eyes being constanly exposed to radiation from your gadget? only fools follow this type of foolishness…..Just unbelievable!! and you are saying “get over it”? just to hard to digest Mr. Schaefer.

  • I’m saying the opposite I think.

  • Love this, Mark.

    At home, we limit screen time by having a screen curfew from 9pm (my kids are 17 and 14) and never allow screens at the table. If we’re watching a movie together, the screens go away too.

    But this is done just to impose some balance. I actually said ‘Yes’ out loud when I read your ‘Get over it’ comment. I absolutely agree that kids should be encouraged to embrace technology or risk falling behind in the new world. I’d far rather they understood and could harness the incredible power at their fingertips, than be afraid of it.

    Parents need to understand it themselves (and many don’t, which I imagine is the source of much of this angst) so that they can teach their kids how to use technology wisely. It’s just like any other aspect of parenting, teaching them about relationships, personal hygiene and health, time management, finding their true selves – everything.

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