Most teens use online social media platforms such as Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter to exchange information. The Internet has made it easier to communicate, but too much use can result in addiction.
Internet addiction may make teens skip vital activities like meal times, homework and social activities. The nature of online communication, coupled with failure to socialize with other people may contribute to poor verbal skills in teens.
The use of Instant Messaging (IM) has become quite popular among teens. Use of symbols, such as smileys, emojis and abbreviated words like “l8r” for later, “lol” for laughing out loud and “btw” for by the way, has made teens to become too casual on language use.
The use of fewer syllables and shorter words is likely to make teens leave out important aspects of verbal communication and may lead to misinterpretation of messages.
Internet communication mostly takes place in the written form as opposed to the spoken form. Teens primarily communicate through textual posts, IM and emails, all of which are in the written form.
Since written communication typically occurs in form of a monologue, teens addicted to the Internet may find it difficult to engage in dialogue a feature of verbal communication. For instance, they may find it difficult to effectively use aspects of verbal communication such as tonal variation, turn taking and speed.
The use of informal language is a salient feature of Internet communication. This has a negative effect on teens’ mastery of formal language.
Internet language has features of informal language such as, short turn taking, exclusion of auxiliary verbs and pronouns. This could be due to the reason that teens put more emphasis on speed and efficiency at the expense of grammar.
Listening is an important aspect of verbal communication and effective listening enhances communication.
Effective listening entails being information literate – which is the ability to identify which information, is needed, when it is needed, where to find it, analyzing it and effectively using it.
Internet addiction may undermine effective listening skills since it lacks nonverbal cues which are an important indicator of the other person’s emotions and feelings.