Attack of the Screens: Why You Still Need Face-to-Face Communication

Spend a day noting which conversations are had in-person and which are had over technology. If you’re like most people, electronic communication wins out. It’s just so easy to text your significant other about weekend plans, order your coffee through a drive-thru, post a status online asking for recipe recommendations and email your coworker about an issue in the office. But easy isn’t always better.

Researchers are starting to believe that while the frequency of communication with family members and loved ones is going up, the quality of that communication is getting worse. That’s because no amount of emoticons or emojis can accurately convey emotions. On the flip side, talking to someone face-to-face makes you feel more emotionally connected to the person. This is especially worrisome for children and teens. When they  do the majority of their communicating digitally (as is often the case), they can struggle to understand emotion and find it difficult to create strong relationships.

Here are three other benefits that come with having face-to-face interactions:

  1. Real conversations release feel-good hormones. Talking to someone face-to-face can cause the release of oxytocin, a powerful hormone that increases when we show affection and that promotes feelings of attachments and trust.
  2. Having friends you actually see makes your body stronger. A study from the University of California, San Francisco observed 3,000 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer. The study found women with a large network of friends who they saw in real life (so not just Facebook friends) were four times as likely to survive as those who had smaller friend groups.
  3. You can see body language, which is an important part of a conversation. Facial expression often communicates more than words, so there is less of a likelihood of you misinterpreting what someone is saying. This helps build a better connection and encourages stronger relationships.

Technology isn’t a bad thing, but relying on it too much can leave you feeling disconnected. So make sure to get up and walk over to chat with a colleague, set aside time at night to touch base with your kids or set up weekly coffee dates with your friends. Finding the right balance between communicating online and having conversations in person will help you generate stronger relationships and feel more balanced.

Looking for other reasons to step away from the screens and connect to the world around you? Check out these blogs:

 

Photo credit: Michael Coghlan

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