Mobile devices and social media have created new ways for people to connect. But are they also undermining social skills?
The Wall Street Journal reports that young people are increasingly finding themselves incapable of small talk and handling many in-person social interactions.
And colleges are responding by offering remedial training in, you know, communicating with others.
“Everybody seems to have a theory about why many young adults have trouble with so-called soft skills, which include the art of persuasion and civil conversation,” the Journal says.
“Blame smartphone addiction, Covid cocooning or helicopter parting. Regardless of cause, a growing number of college professors in various disciplines around the U.S. are trying to keep professional chitchat from becoming a lost language.”
Which is to say, young people have to be trained in subtle niceties such as eye contact and active listening.
Claire Ralph, a Caltech computer-science lecturer, told the Journal that when she started at the campus seven years ago, she found that many of her job-seeking students weren’t even getting interviews for prospective employment.
She asked to see copies of the cover letters students were using.
One began, “Hey wazzup y’all.”
Employers are noticing. While most college seniors rate themselves as “very/extremely proficient” at communicating, only 54% of employers agreed.
Which is to say, roughly half of businesses with job openings aren’t nearly as impressed by college students’ gift of gab as the students are themselves.
Parents have been warning their offspring for years that staring at a computer or smartphone screen all day will dull your wits.
If nothing else, it will prevent you from holding your own in a conversation with someone you’re trying to impress.
And that’s not a good place for a job applicant to find him or herself.