Today’s children and teens are often referred to as the “silent generation.” Texting, snapping, pinning, and posting have replaced the phone, the talk, the personal interaction that helps people to connect with each other. By replacing back and forth conversations with quick pics and incoherent sentences, our children are not honing the fine art of verbal communication.

Learning to converse with others teaches significant life skills. It teaches children about boundaries; children learn to take turns; it teaches people respect; it strengthens a child’s comprehension skills; and it helps children to develop socially. While social media keeps children linked in, for better or worse, a child cannot learn to connect with another person via text. Children need that eye contact, they need to hear the tone in other people’s voices, they need to pick up on social cues as well as be able to interpret body language.

If our children do not learn to communicate effectively, they could end up feeling socially isolated. Communicating with others enables children to share experiences and feelings about these experiences. Children learn to understand others and can identify appropriate and inappropriate behaviors through conversation. That face-to-face, in person time also helps children to develop a sense of empathy. Listening to someone’s story provides a more intense and colorful picture than broken phrases via text or a disappearing snapshot of someone’s face.

Speaking and communicating, are also the basis for academic success. Speaking to others exposes children to new words and different sentence structures. They learn to dissect ideas, make inferences, and draw conclusions. These skills will make them stronger readers and writers. These skills will teach your children to think and to learn how to learn, both of which are more essential skills than simply acquiring information.

Communicating with others builds bonds and relationships, whether they be friendships, romantic, or business-oriented. Many careers require the ability to network and develop connections with people with similar interests. Teaching children these skills early on can provide them with strengths in and out of a classroom environment.

So encourage your children to speak to others. Often. Suggest that they text less and talk more. Posting is important in today’s youth’s social stratosphere, but it cannot replace the importance of having a conversation. Encourage your children to learn the lost art of conversation. This generation cannot be silent if they hope to succeed in varied aspects of their lives.