Kids playing on smartphones sitting on the grass in the park.

Is mobile technology threatening our social skills?

On my way home from London the carriage was almost quiet. Few people talked. They were either reading a paper, a book, or like myself engrossed in their phone, tablet, or laptop.

But its not just here, technology has worked it’s way into our social life everywhere. We talk to each other keeping one eye on our phones. This prevents us from really connecting to each other.

Conversation can become stilted and often based upon what we read in our phone. Empathy, the understanding of someone’s feelings and position, is not being cultivated.

In essence the phone we carry becomes this other person we would rather talk to. We look to the phone as a way of protecting ourselves if the conversation bores us or threatens to upset us.

If there’s one sign that society is fragmenting I feel, is that people can’t converse with each other face-to-face.

I’m just a guilty as anyone. But I have an excuse. Social anxiety.

I wonder though, is this lack of practice at conversation fostering the very fear and anxiety that characterises Social Anxiety?

Perhaps it doesn’t need to be the extreme fear and worry of Social Anxiety. But just an underlying reticence at asking someone a question, or introducing yourself to a stranger.

This reserved attitude towards connection can mean important skills to do with conversation. Like listening, attention, empathy, body language and more are not just forgotten, but are not even learned.

Our unwillingness to communicate might make it more difficult to do so when we need it the most. Like an intimate relationship, at your workplace, or when a catastrophe strikes.

Many people have picked up on this trend and are asking the same questions.

Fighting for the ‘lost art of conversation’ – BBC News

Now everyone is connected, is this the death of conversation

A New Kind of Social Anxiety in the Classroom – The Atlantic

Stop Googling. Let’s Talk. – The New York Times

Are we losing an important skill here?

Are social skills not being learned, even lost? Because we would much rather talk through our phones?

The upshot being that individuals feel uncomfortable conversing with each other, and may even become anxious in doing so. I feel I have fallen for the ease of technology. I’d rather look into my phone than talk. In a sense my smartphone has become something I hide behind.

I have a bad feeling that we are, and in this world of complexity we need cooperation and communication now more than ever.

I feel our future success and happiness may be comprised. We need to listen well, to open up and share, be vulnerable and talk.


Because that’s the only way meaningful connection can take place. For social anxiety suffers it’s how we lea to communicate. But it’s here that the mobile phone presents a significant threat.

Do you spend a lot of time on your phone out in the world?

Don’t feel the desire to talk to a stranger? Instead want to text, email or play a game on your phone?

Feel out of practice talking to other people?

Comment below.

Image Credit: libertos / 123RF Stock Photo