The Washington Post featured an article about how social networking tools like Facebook are influencing student socialization at college. Some say that the frenetic texting, online communications, and iPhone chatter are causing students to lose the ability to socialize normally in-person. Others say that technology levels the social “playing field” for introverts. I interviewed Revolution Health’s psychologist, Dr. Mark Smaller, to get his thoughts on the matter. Feel free to add your perspective in the comments section of this blog.
Dr. Val: The article
suggests that technology can become a social crutch, keeping people from making
new friends. Do you think that the
Internet can isolate students from one another?
Dr. Smaller: I think the long term impact of the Internet in
social interactions is unclear. For now
such technology does allow students to remain in touch with one another
instantly, but that’s not too different from what the telephone did for
previous generations. If anything, I’d
say that technology can interfere with isolation, especially for the new
college student away from home for the first time. If there is a propensity for isolation, any
activity in excess – reading, school work, drinking, etc. will become the means
to continue that isolation.
Dr. Val: Do you think
that social networking and Internet based methods of communication are
particularly healthy for introverts?
Dr. Smaller: Being able to communicate sincerely or
genuinely but indirectly and not in person may help the otherwise shy person. Some of our most brilliant artists and
writers have used their craft as a means to communicate to others in ways they
could not in social situations.
Dr. Val: Overall do
you think that socializing via the Internet is a good thing or a bad thing for
Dr. Smaller: One things is certain on and off the Internet:
relationships for children, adolescents, and adults can become quite intense
with this way of communicating because of fantasy and anonymity. Previous generations used the art of letter
writing to express intense feelings, followed by the telephone, and now online
communication. What they all have in
common is the essential human need to connect – including the satisfaction of
doing so and the frustration when it chronically does not occur.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.