How Social Skills Are Lost During Online Learning

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Technology has come has a blessing to the current generation in many ways. However the social skills that are very much needed in a society are likely to be ignored in the process of going online to get educational and social needs. With the fast paced technology more people are getting techno savvy and this has proved to do some harm while at the same time societies are left helpless because they truly need the internet and this online classes to be specific.

Children learn to interact and socialize in mainly three ways. They  observe what goes on around them, learn from adults and get what is deemed as right and also get to know what constitutes a wrong move or action and practice with the social environment. The later mode of interaction mainly involves trying in their own to adjust and adapt to the environment they grow up in. this means the environment under which children grow in also plays a significant role in molding children. The internet and online learning thus are some of the components of the current environment under which today’s children and students grow. Questions have been raised on whether this is the right environment to bring up and educated these learners. This paper thus seeks to understand this problem and come up with the situation as it is with advises of how technology can be embraced and still at the same time bring up and educate children who are socially stable yet well educated.

Literature review


It is obvious technology has reduced the contact of human being to the extent that the adult life’s of children who grew up and socialized mainly through the internet has been messed up. Ironically these learners and students interact with more friends and people and make a lot of friends through the net than one would make through normal physical contact and through normal classrooms in the case of students. Their social skills become weakened and they become socially uncomfortable in social settings or situations.

The reason this is the case is because there are some covert messages which accompany speech and actions during a typical physical interaction or communication with others. This unfortunately is not possible in an online class environment.  This added to the fact that children have been known to learn more through observation and social environments makes the situation even worse. In typical physical social surroundings children watch their friends, siblings, classmates, parents or teachers perform their duties or carry out activities.  Studies have proved that over 75% of learning by children takes place through observations. Parents, teachers and others around them do not have to tell them much for a normal child to learn and discern what is wrong or right.  Technology therefore comes to a high degree as a social interaction hindrance.

The study aims at finding more details on how online learning is likely to yield to members in society who are social perverts and give recommendation on how technology can be best utilized to strike a balance between the much needed technology and the equally important social skills.

The literature review will look at studies earlier done on the subject with an object of sampling some of the best outcomes of this studies, pick out the cases of online learning that have been integrated with social interaction and analyze how best this can be enhanced. The research methodology will focus on the means through which the paper got the information and give an analysis of the collected information.  The research will also analyze the various technological innovations through which learners’ access information or studies look at their various benefits and also the limitations of this media eventually.

It is no contest that the recent technological innovations have played a big role in changing how people communicate with each other. The way people form and maintain relationships is gradually changing courtesy of internet based technologies, and the most recently developed, social networking websites. These sites have altered the beliefs that were held previously in relation to formation and maintenance of identity where by one can include as little personal information as possible, whether true or fabricated. These changes in social identity and interpersonal communication have impacted the offline world relationships both negatively and positively. In this thesis, we will shed light on the evident impacts that have been caused by online learning. Students learning in this world of fast passed technology are communicating more with very many people compared to the past generations and hence missing the crucial social skills. The question arises, how does this happen?

Students acquire social skills in three ways; observing social interactions, learning of what is right or wrong from adults and interacting with the social environment. Technological advances have reduced human contact and interaction hence hindering learners’ adequate social skills necessary for their growth to adult hood as well as future lives. Through human interactions, students are able to learn how to covert their message in both their actions and speeches. Reduced human contact leads to weakening of social skills; this makes students to become socially awkward and hence shrinking away from social situation. Psychologists and educators are beginning to get concerned about internet addiction and the impact it has on students psychological well being and social skills.

The facts

Online use of computer is widespread and steadily growing. The current estimates have indicated that more than 148 million people worldwide are online and the number is steadily increasing at an alarming rate of 12% every month (Suler, 1996). According to a census carried out in the US, by the US Census Bureau reported that, 22.2% of the 76.5 million computer users in America aged 3 and above uses the internet and more that one fifth of the students with home computers use them for accessing the internet (U.S Census Bureau, 1997). It also documented that more that 55 million enrolled students/children uses computers at their schools and that schools are the most common places where students can have access to internet. With these overwhelming numbers, it is impossible to dought the popularity and proliferation of internet usage.

The question arises

While most cultures heralds the use of internet as wonder of technology, there have emerged suggestions that it has a negative impact on the social skills of students and individuals in general. According to a recent study carried out by Carnegie Mellon University, it documented that, internet usage leads to significant increase in loneliness and misery as well as a decline in the psychological well being of individuals (American Psychological Association, 1998). In Pittsburg, the Homenetprojects conducted a study on a sample of 169 people during their first and second year of using the internet. The results showed that, as the individuals in the sample continued to use the internet, they were reported to disassociate with the aspect of socialization and hence kept up with fewer friends as time went by. They were also reported to spend even less time with their families and relatives. This heightened their levels of daily stress, loneliness and depression. This happened even though their main reason for using the internet was to increase their interpersonal communication.

In another survey conducted by the Washington’s Annenberg Public Centre, it was documented that most parents in computer households have a fear that the use of internet will have a negative influence on their children mainly due to its interactivity and its wide open nature. Nevertheless, they still accept as true that their kids need the internet in their learning life.  They described the major benefits of using internet as the abilities to discover relevant things and benefits in helping in school work. All the same, the disadvantages of using the internet do not stop at the high school level. In some of the major universities is the world, the rate of drop out by first years students has dramatically rose due to their increase in investment in computer as well as access to internet. What is the reason for this? The administrators discovered that more that 43% of drop outs stayed up all night on internet (Wallace, 1998). In reaction to the college survey on the effects of technology on communication and interpersonal skills, the potential problem mentioned dealt with electronic communications in form chat rooms, e-mails and discussion groups. Several respondents’ spar of the feeling of isolation that develops from using the internet as well as lack of facial contact as a factor contributing to feelings of loneliness and alienation (Wade, 1999). Some people have blamed the excessive use of internet have caused break ups in their marriages (Eykyn, 1999).

Is internet addictive?

With the increasing internet information, psychologists have debated the prevalence of psychological disorders caused by online use. Some have labeled it as internet addiction disorder. Various studies have indicated the existence of addictive behaviors among those people who use the internet (Goldberg, 1997). Based on the criteria’s that psychologists apply in defining the types of addictions, online surveys have estimated the incidences of addictive patterns behavior among frequent internet users range from 6% to a high of 80% (Greenfield & Young, 1998).   The symptoms that have been identified include: (a) usage of computers for gratification, relief from stress or pleasure; (b) feeling out of control or depressed when one is not using it; (c) spending amounts of money and time purchasing soft wares, hardware, online magazines or other activities related to computers; (d) neglecting school, family obligations and work (Gawel, 1998). On the contrary, some argued that some of these symptoms are more oriented towards disorders of general personality rather than computer addiction (Davis, 1999). Some have continued to challenge the findings on the basis that online survey studies are not accurate due to demographic inequalities and sampling problems. Maressa Orzack Hecht, the director of computer addiction services at Harvard medical school stated that this addiction revolves around the individuals who work the computers but not the computer. She indicates that people use computers as toll for evading, procrastinating and escaping and the most venerable are the students who are mostly bored and lonely or are from those families where they do not find anybody to interact with after school (Valenza, 1999). Lightly, some psychologists have taken humorous approaches to identify the characteristics of those people who are addicted to internet.

All the same, psychiatric or an official psychological diagnosis of computer addiction does not exist. The diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders (recent edition) which set standards of determining the mental illness types does not include internet addiction category. The ones who have conducted studies in this subject have agreed that the heavy internet users have many similar characteristics and they all relate to general addition disorder. The evidence that is developing regarding internet addiction has created a increasing quest for more information regarding the psychological characteristics of internet addicts. This information can play a big role in identifying and developing effective prevention and intervention programs.

Effects on the students

In reference to HomeNetstudy, it has been documented that teenagers are heavier users of internet than the adults. Most of the adults use the internet as part of their jobs or for getting information related to employment, whereas teenagers tend to mostly use the internet to meet new people, listen to music or play internet games. This specific appeal has caused concern among teachers and other educators. Some of them like Archie Bunkerian have believed that internet users will loose the skills, savvy and the patience for conducting social relations in the corporal world and at the same time internet will deepen the negative effects that television has already inflicted on our social skills (Weinstein, 1995). Considering this view then, we assume that we are encouraging the students to turn into social nitwits.

In today’s students’ dealings with technology, they are most often portrayed as criminals or victims. The press has released a warning on internet stalkers, together with other internet tragedies like the Columbine H.S, it have raised concerns and safety measures when it comes to dealing with internet. Like Weinstein, the press has viewed technology and media including motion pictures, CD recordings and television as a major contributor of the deteriorating social functioning and values of our young generation. They have viewed the internet as culprit of these afflictions with its capabilities to play innate games (Fainaru, 1998), of beckoning sexually overt temptations and alleged addictive tendencies.  The debate as to the harmful technological effects on the students will most likely linger because of the hesitant nature of the study on this matter.

The effects of internet have been felt transversely in all social spheres, influencing the society and individuals on structural, personal and global levels. The issues that have been raised by the introduction of internet into the community include problems of ethics, morals, logistics, rights, social utility statecraft and interpersonal relationships. The effects of these technologies will most likely influence the society at its roots, by putting into play the issues that are related to all constitutive social qualities that have remained undisturbed during other paradigmatic technological shift (McNair et al, 1981).

Ever since internet was incorporated in our education systems as a pedagogical device, its potential impacts have continuously been felt. We can say with confidence that nevertheless, the education system will significantly be changed by internet as a consequence. All the same, what ever changes that will be initiated by this technology, teachers and other educators should not abandon the face to face communication with their students because it is imperative to education. Accordingly, the most appropriate approach will be employment of a hybrid strategy to mix the traditional pedagogical and technologically mediated techniques (Greenfield & Scherlis, 1997).

The lavishness of emailing messages in preference to charging up the telephone bills has become more and more appealing. Checking sports, weather and news via the internet is a privilege that many people are taking advantage of. The lives of the children have already been influenced by this technology as well while this is just a beginning. Internet and computers will never disappear and software titles which target the young people continue to be developed. Computer science has turned out to be a compulsory subject in almost all schools in many parts of the world. Nowadays we find the computers being used in all aspects of our lives be it printing of train tickets or making bank transactions. This is due to the fact that computers have a limited or zero chance of making an error or a mistake. For this reason, parents too have incorporated this technology and have realized the importance of instilling computer knowledge and knowledge in their children’s education. Computer or online education gives the students a chance to work on a computer in completing assignments as well as taking exams. The students spend more than an hour in an online class each day. In an average school, students requires at list six hours of online work rather than class instruction. Online educators hold very few classes in virtual classrooms. Reclusive students are not able to develop personal interrelationships with their fellow students and teachers over the webcams in the virtual classes. Personal interactions are not allowed by the webcast instruction. Since there no outside dialogues which take place, interpersonal social skills do not develop. The students may feel a sense of loneliness and isolation (Riggio, 1986)

. A research that explores the effects of different digital multi tasking and social media devices on students today has indicated that continuous and consistent use of these devices can be a major cause of the students developing social problems. Internet applications like the apple video chat program, face times as well as the social network sites like MySpace and face book can never be a replacement for interactions with real human beings (the study, Stanford University). Analysts have suggested that students who spend most of their time relentlessly switching between Facebook, YouTube, text messaging and television have very high chances of developing social problems (Mark Millan, CNN).

Another conclusion that have been made after a survey of more than 3,461 American female students age between 8 to 12 years has shown that young girls who spend a lopsided amount of hours using  internet facilities and devices later struggles to build up usual social tendencies. Mr. Clifford Nass, a professor of communications in Stanford University who is one of the people who worked in the survey, believes that the study only focused on young female students but this applies even to male students of the same age. “It is very vital for kids to learn about emotions and the only way of doing that is through paying attention to supplementary people. It is a must that they look them in the eyes,” (Nass, 1997). The study denoted a thriving antidote to this phenomenon which simply ensuring that students spend most of their time interacting face to face with other people. “If a student avoids face to face communications, their chance of learning critical things they ought to learn becomes very minimal” Nass said. For one to learn about the social skills, they should first learn about emotions. The analysts were not able to calculate the number of hours that students should spend in face to face interactions, but social skills are normally are normally achieved when the students are having eye to eye contact with other people. Swindling with an iPod during a dialogue or chatting with people on face to face webcams on Skype cannot replace actual face time. Nass discovered that, those people who heavily multi task undergo cognitive issues like recalling and focusing on information from the top of their heads. Heavy multi taskers are bad at making judgments of specific activities which is a very crucial skill in the life line of working people- than those people who spend minimum o their time multitasking (Nass, 1999).

Depending on the different outcomes that are caused by internet usage, models of social compensation indicates that students/ individuals who do not have sufficient offline social skills most a times benefits from interacting through the internet, while the rich gets richer, the models suggests that this people might suffer from increased negative outcomes. In the first model of hypothesis, it can be presumed as the latter, since it assumes that people who are lonely and most of the times seeks to have friends online for compensating their deficient social skills eventually ends up experiencing negative outcomes in life (E.g. harming other important activities like significant relationships, school or work) rather than relieving their problems which already exists. It is suggested that students who are unhealthy psychologically are lonely and they usually have difficulties in maintaining hale and hearty social interactions with the people in their lives and also regulating the amount of time spent online. Nevertheless, on top of loneliness, this people end up adding more problems to their lives. The augmented problems might lead them to relying on their much loved internet activities as a way of diminishing or escaping from their increased troubles; this could lead to isolation and augmented loneliness. This proposition has been tested with various hypothesized models that had seclusion as endogenous patchy following negative outcomes and was supported. The pattern suggests a possible malicious cycle of unfettered internet usage if not controlled. From a multigroup analysis that compared more than three internet activities in a hypothesized model with isolation as a result, downloading turned out to be a major problem contributor in that its outcomes are only associated with loneliness. Entertainment applications of the intern.............

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