Will Social Media Replace Face-to-Face Communication?

I recently came across an interesting video named ‘How Social Media is rewiring Our Brains’ posted on The Business Insider’s Science YouTube channel. The video discusses the impact that social media has on the way our brains function when creating social connections and relationships with others. Dr. Dan Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine speaks about how social media is actually physically rewiring our brains. After watching the video in its entirety, I started to wonder how social media has changed the way we engage with others in a teaching and learning environment. If social media can condition the mind in a behaviouristic manner, how does this impact a students learning in an online environment? Has social media replaced face-to-face relationships or has it enhanced our human connections? With my sites set on developing online programs and curriculum, this topic has sparked some interesting questions and observations about how online communication may effect the learning environment.

If social media and other asynchronous methods of communication are not giving people more face-to-face time with others, will the new generation of learners possess a more surfaced level of experiencing the world around them?

In my recent experience in an online learning environment I found that there are human factors that are lost in online communication. The premise that social media and asynchronous methods of communicating lack human factors such as eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, posture, gesture, timing and intensity that humans need to communicate effectively, is something that I would like explore and research. If we rely solely on linear ways of communication, such as text, email and social media, will the effects of this communication cause our students to think and receive information in a linear way as well? Will this form of communication impact the way we build relationships with others and will social media replace face-to-face communication?

social media communication
shoeboxblog.com (2015)

If social media and other asynchronous methods of communication are not giving people more face-to-face time with others, will the new generation of learners possess a more surfaced level of experiencing the world around them? If this is true, I wonder what role social media will play in teaching and learning in an online environment? How will students interact, communicate and interpret information if there is no human factor involved?

What are your thoughts? Do you think social media has replaced face-to-face communication? How do you think social media will impact teaching and learning in an online environment? Feel free to leave a comment below.

 

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2 thoughts on “Will Social Media Replace Face-to-Face Communication?”

  1. Thanks for this post Mark, with three university-aged children, social media communication is an ongoing conversation in our home. Social media in it’s current form is establishing it’s place in the way we communication. Even my ninety-year-old father, uses Skype and is now asking about twitter. However, as you mentioned, there are so many factors that this affects. Misinterpretations and conflict will develop because of the lack of the “human factors such as eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, posture, gesture, timing and intensity that humans need to communicate effectively (Karam, 2015).” Is it not our obligation to society as educators to ensure our students explore all that learning has to offer? Therefore if social media is skewing social interaction and communication so heavily to one side, I feel educators should counter balanced with more of a face-to-face approach. Maybe asynchronous sessions are not the solution, perhaps synchronous with audio and video provide more human factor, but still allow for the convenience and benefits of online learning. I do feel without proper intervention and guidance that the coming generations will lack depth in their experience.

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    1. Hi Judy! Thanks for your response. As an educator, I agree that we should allow our students to explore the use of technology and experience a variety of communication methods. However, my concern is how social media; as a means of communication, will impact a students face-to-face communication skills before they enter the classroom. How will these factors of communication influence the way they communicate in an online environment? How do their external preferences and habits of communication affect their communication within an online synchronous session? Online etiquette alters the way we communicate through synchronous methods. We tend to limit our intensity, tone, gestures, expressions and timing when communicating online. We know that communicating is becoming more and more instant and concise. Twitter only allows a user to complete a thought in 140 characters. Vine limits a user to post a video up to 6 seconds in length, and SnapChat enables people to communicate with a variety of mediums in relatively short bursts of time.

      I wonder how these forms of instant communication will affect how people interact in a face-to-face environment? Will conversations be instant and abrupt? Will online conversations become the preferred method of communication, therefore leaving human interaction behind? We’ve already seen how students cringe when asked to write an 800 word paper about themselves… 😉

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