Society today is an ever-changing voyage. With Google, texting, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube shaping our children’s views and perceptions of reality, they need more. While there are some great benefits to each of these services, the time our children are spending using digital devices is substantial. With these non-personal interactions replacing many types of verbal communication, we need to teach our children the importance of direct face to face interaction. A great way to do this is through “hands on” community service.
One of the great things about volunteer work is that it usually involves dealing with people. And many of those people tend to embrace “Old School” communication methods. There are even some volunteers that continue to thrive in life without a cell phone or a computer. While technology can be a great asset in the coordination and management of community service programs, it rarely replaces the face to face efforts of the volunteers that get the job done.
New Technology Can’t Get the Job Done:
Whether it is Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Literacy Volunteers of America or any of the thousands of other great national and local causes, verbal communication, and socialization are irreplaceable. You can’t text a hammer to hang drywall. You can’t post a tweet to deliver a meal to a shut-in. You can’t help someone learn to read with a Like on Facebook. And while YouTube is great, it can’t prepare a hot meal at a homeless shelter.
A Hand Shake And A Smile Go A Long Way:
If you are helping a homeless family select some gently used clothing to keep their children warm in the winter, they probably won’t be able to try on the coat “digitally”. It is so much nicer to meet a real person with a warm smile and firm handshake that might just make them feel that someone really does care about their family.
And working on a job site, remodeling a house forces everyone to ask questions, share ideas and work together to complete the renovations. There are always supervisors walking around, talking openly about everything from the weather to sports or even careers with youth participants. While they may be reluctant to strike up these conversations with their parents, I have personally found they are very open and honest when sharing their thoughts with another volunteer.
Children Need More Social Interaction:
Old fashioned talking, helping others and working as a group cannot be replaced with new technology. Community service will force them to develop, enhance and use these skills more effectively which can only help them in all aspects of life. From career aspirations and interviewing to dating, marriage and raising a family. Those that possess great communication skills will always be able to handle situations better than those without.
Encourage them to use their adolescent years to experience both the new and old communication methods. I am fearful that if we don’t, the next generation will progressively lose their interpersonal skills, or worse yet, never develop any. I cannot imagine a world in which we rely entirely on digital communication. But that is the direction that our children are heading. It is time to turn that tide and your children can make a difference.
Help your community and your children at the same time. Get them involved in activities that force them to develop and use interpersonal communications. Society will reward their volunteer efforts and their volunteer efforts will reward their future growth. And another great communicator can only help society as a whole. It is a “win-win” situation for everyone involved.