Technology can handicap teenagers' social skills

Marci Gore • Jan 19, 2011 at 4:31 AM

Cell phone texting and social networking Web sites such as Facebook help keep today’s teens connected to their peers at all times. A recent national survey of 800 teens and nine focus groups in four United States cities revealed that half of the teens surveyed send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month. One in three sends more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month. Although some of these thousands of texts may only consist of one word, or even one letter replies, such as “k” for “OK,” there’s no denying that’s still a whole lot of electronic communication. And chances are good that when they’re not texting their friends, these same teens can be found chatting online with their friends on Facebook. But is being linked electronically with one another 24 hours a day actually making it difficult for kids to develop and maintain those important face-to-face friendships? Some experts say yes. Marilyn Randall is a retired award-winning veteran graphic artist whose mission is to help restore traditional values to the next generation of children. Randall has authored a series of children’s books on friendships, including “For Faithful Friends,” “The Best of Best Friends” and “Share from the Heart.” She is concerned that children are being exposed to texting and social networking sites much too young and therefore don’t really understand the value of friendship. Read the expanded version of this report in today's print edition of the Kingsport Times-News or its enhanced electronic edition.

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