It has been suggested that self-absorption seems to be increasing while empathy has been on the decline, and many have pointed to social media as a possible driver for that change. Arguments for why this would be the case are persuasive and obvious: Time spent with media could detract from face-to-face time, so heavy media users would forfeit opportunities to deepen empathy by conversing and learning from human facial and vocal cues. However, on the flipside of this when it comes to evidence linking social media use to empathy, the outcomes are limited and difficult to interpret.
Many young adults, when questioned on the issue, feel that they have the balance right and when using technology and social media are effective communicators. As parents questioning this attitude we may well be met with a response: "But I'm chatting with you and seven others, Dad!" In the classrooms, playground and dining hall we observe daily that teens place a high value on face-to-face communication as evidenced by the amount of chatter and laughter! When I probe this observation many of the teens at school say that they prefer face-to-face communication over all technological means of communication, because it is more fun and because they can understand people better in person – a great response! Social media, I suppose, to them is an added bonus that many of us as parents never had access too. Most also felt that social media and networking in the overall helped build rather than hurt relationships.
Current studies look at relationships between variables (in this case empathy and social media) and so it is difficult to pin this ‘one’ down with any sense of certainty at present. What is certain however is that our values at BISB are in place to nurture ambition, inculcate empathy and embrace our wonderful diversity in this ever changing world!