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Social Media for Toddlers?!

A company developed a social media tool for toddlers so that they can “post” their updates on the Internet and “communicate” with their friends in the network (as shown in the embeded CNN News video). This tool looks like a “brick game,” where toddlers insert the bricks with distinguished shapes into a corresponding box. For example, a squared block represents “I’m eating;” a circle block indicates “I’m brushing my teeth;” and a triangle block means “I’m sleeping.” The corresponding box is connected to the Internet so that the status will be updated within the toddlers’ network.

Today, I read a reflection paper on the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education about the 15th Annual Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism (Van Hoof & Mattila, 2010). One of the issues emerged in the conference is that many graduate students do not process good communication (presentation) skills. Related to this issue, I wonder if this social media tool for toddlers goes too extreme. If toddlers are “trained” to communicate without talking to each other, how can we expect them to conduct professional presentations when they grow up? Similarly, when student reply on e-mails, texting, Facebook, and Twitter for communication, they are not “trained” to talk or write in a formal manner. Their presentation and written communication skills will probably suffer.

Has lacking sufficient verbal and written communication skills become a problem for our young professionals? How serious is the problem? What can we do to help Generation Dot.Com improve their communication skills? Also, what are the responsibilities of Generation Dot.Com?



References:
Van Hoof, H., & Mattila, A. (2010). Observations on the 15th Annual Graduate Students Conference in Hospitality and Tourism. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 22(3), 49-51.

Comments

  1. Overall, developers are taking it too far with this social media tool for toddlers. There is no point in introducing such an invention to toddlers at such a young age when this is the prime time for them to be working on developing their verbal communication. They have plenty of time in their lives later to learn about social media. And I do agree that lacking sufficient verbal and written communication skills has become a problem for young professionals because we have so many outlets to communicate nonverbally through that often times prevent our generation from conducting ourselves appropriately in the work place without it feeling a bit awkward. This problem may be one of the most reasonable factors as to why many young people don’t get hired, why they get fired, or why they have other problems in the workplace. While some schools may still have debate teams, very few have oratory competitions anymore. To help this generation improve their communication skills we must emphasize in our schools and in the workplace the importance of rhetoric and communication, and the people in this generation must be willing to learn these practices and work hard to be better communicators.

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  2. As someone who was introduced to digital media at young age I can see that it has influenced my development socializing with people. When I was a child talking on the phone was the primary and only use of the phone. Now talking on the phone is a secondary use of the phone for me, and for most people my age. Texting has replaced the main form of communication and why wouldn't it? Anything you say you can proof read before you send to someone and edit it so that you don't sound foolish. I think this may be one of the reasons that this hinders public speaking because conversation has added an extra step, one that is not in public speaking. This is all presuming that you text everyday and that it has been psychologically embedded into your natural routine. For example, I compulsively check my phone ring or not constantly to see if I missed a text or not. I've become so comfortable with texting that it feels awkward to talk on the phone. If this is the kind of effect that it has had on me, and I only started texting in the last 5 years, who knows what it could do when it becomes a life long practice. The idea is entertaining, but totaly obtuse for a 3 year old, can they even comprehend what they are doing? or read for that matter?

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  3. When I was a kid all we did was call our friends house on the telephone and then ride our bikes there. I think this product is too advanced for kids that age. Yes, the IOBR does help teach the kids using blocks, but I think this is going to start a trend of teaching kids to just communicate through some sort of social networking device. I fear that kids being born now will have very damaged social skills and will rely purely on their technology to operate their daily lives.

    It is good to start learning technology at a young age. This is a social media universe. But, I think the kids in that video were too young to be using social networking devices.

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