Does the internet hurt or help communication?

The internet is great for communicating on the internet. All those hours spent texting, Snapchatting, posting, and commenting helps kids bond with friends, express themselves, and work together. And if you have a kid on the autism spectrum, online communication may be easier when there are no facial cues to figure out. Yes, there are negatives to online communication: cyberbullying, trolling, risky relationships. But overall, kids report that the internet makes them feel closer to friends and supported.

The not-so-great news is that our constant reliance on devices probably does harm face-to-face communication. Studies have shown that simply having a phone nearby lowers both the quality and the quantity of conversation and that excessive device use affects people's ability to identify facial cues. Plus nasty public social media wars set a terrible example of online communication for kids.

Don't despair just yet. Not all kids use phones and the internet to the point of losing communication skills. And very few kids use devices at the cost of social interaction. Kids want to make friends and connect with others face-to-face. With your guidance, your kids can develop communication skills that will serve them well online and off. 

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