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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Our Changing Times: Internet Beats Interface Time

A new report was just released by Cisco, worldwide. It focused on the social life of young adults, both college students (ages 18-23) and professionals under age thirty.The bottom line?

Social life is becoming less about personal interaction and more about being connected to the Internet.

In fact, according to the research, getting on the Internet is more important than friends or even dating for a staggering percentage of collegians and young professionals. Here’s a snapshot of the Cisco Connected World Technology Report:

1.  Two out of three students said a mobile device is the most important possession in their life.

2.If forced to choose, about two thirds of students would pick the Internet over owning a car.

3.About nine in ten college students have a Facebook account.

4.One in five students has never bought a textbook for class.

5.The vast majority of students would rather be on the internet than with a person face to face.

I recently spoke to three college deans of residence life who complained they are having a hard time getting their male students to leave the dorms or even date girls. They just want to veg. They are gaming or watching videos.

This is not only a forecast of a changing adult world in the next ten years, it is a wake up call to those of us who are adults.  We must answer the moral and social and spiritual questions like:

•Is this OK? There is nothing wrong with the Internet, but have we become lazy, failing to build emotional intelligence in the name of convenience?

• Will our people skills diminish and make marriages and families weak as we are unable to work at relationships or keep long term commitment?

•What will this do to a new generation of workers who already face a skills gap, with employers reporting they have vacancies but not for youth?

I am not a prophet of doom. I just want to pose questions that force us to reckon with the moral, relational and spiritual consequences of our changing culture.

What do you think?



  1. Matt Palka on November 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

    I think these are damaging to  our relationships. We can do better. I am so glad that you have focused on this. Some of these statistics are shocking. I own a Facebook and Tumblr, but I feel there is so much more to learn in face-to-face conversation. If given the opportunity for face-to-face conversation, I would take it instead of an online chat.  It increases the depth of conversation because you recognize emotions much more clearly. You also talk about more topics face-to-face because a text message conversation could be as long as a day if you are busy while texting one another. 

    • Tim Elmore on November 14, 2011 at 10:35 pm

      Good points, Matt! I hope more people realize what they are missing when prioritizing virtual interactions over face-to-face conversations. There is a real trade-off involved.

  2. Izhar Roslan on December 1, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    i believe on the flipside, social media has the utmost potential to strengthen family ties. when you check in at places u dine on FB with your family members, when u upload pictures of family gatherings, birthday wishes, give inspiring comments, there will be a sense of connectedness and belonging.

    the game has changed tremendously and the time to bond has been expedited due to interactions online. it is a bridge that makes face-to-face interaction easier.

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Our Changing Times: Internet Beats Interface Time