Social Skills Challenged

Studies show that gregarious, well-connected people actually lost friends, and experienced symptoms of loneliness and depression, after joining discussion groups and other activities. People who communicated with disembodied strangers online found the experience empty and emotionally frustrating but were nonetheless seduced by the novelty of the new medium. As Prof. Robert Kraut, a Carnegie Mellon researcher, told me recently, such people allowed low-quality relationships developed in virtual reality to replace higher-quality relationships in the real world.

No group has embraced this socially impoverishing trade-off more enthusiastically than adolescents, many of whom spend most of their free hours cruising the Net in sunless rooms. This hermetic existence has left many of these teenagers with nonexistent social skills — a point widely noted in stories about the computer geeks who rose to prominence in the early days of Silicon Valley.

Social Science, Technology

One Comment on “Social Skills Challenged”

  1. tinne Says:

    Something to think about Kathyrn, thanks. I have a 13 year old stepson and we are very careful to limit his computer time. According to him, we are the only parents doing it. Maybe I should limit my own time as well…