A general theory is floating around that says children today are ruder, more ignorant, and generally less respectful of their elders than they were in pre-electronic device days. Are children's listening skills declining as a side effect of the 21st century? More importantly, does a child of yours languish in poor listening and what can you do to improve their listening skills? Read on to find out...

21st Century's Affect on Listening

Evidence suggests that children's listening skills have degraded in recent years. Many studies (such as ones listed in USA Today and MSNBC) conclude today's children suffer from a lowered attention span due to activities like television and computer games. Peter Jensen at the National Institute of Mental Health concludes: "Extensive exposure to television and video games may promote development of brain systems that scan and shift attention at the expense of those that focus attention."

If you have children, I'm sure sometimes you feel talking to them is like chatting to a brick wall. Children at times shrug you off, ignoring what you have to say. Parents think the solution to poor listening skills comes down to discipline. They may yell at the child or spank them for not paying attention.

The problem is beyond discipline, however. Some children cannot fix their attention on one thing for long periods of time. They have no chance to effectively listen when they cannot build their focus and develop other fundamental skills through interactions with peers and adults.

Television and other solo activities fail to foster a child's fundamental talking and listening skills. Children sit in front of a gaming console, computer, or television then become mind-slaves to the device. They "switch off" their brain into the rapid, hypnotic pace these devices deliver.

Computer games and other highly immersive activities require a high level of concentration and reasonable degree of skill to play. When concentration and skill blend, time gets distorted to form an internal state of enjoyment behavioral psychologists call "flow". Most people who have played a computer game will describe the flow state when they say hours fly by in apparently a short period of time.

Flow is more enjoyable than following Dad's orders. The change of pace from a Mario game, for example, to listening to a parent complain about undone homework is slow, boring, and annoying. Computers and televisions deliver sounds and visuals more entertaining than the sound of a nagging parent. However, are computer games and other 21st century influences to blame for these problems?

I do not know if computers games directly contribute to poor listening – though research hints at a correlation – but I do know that a lack of interaction develops poor listening. Computer games and similar gadgets cause children to develop poor listening skills when their number of interactions dwindle. Communication skills take practice.

Activities such as computer games are not evil. A total ban is unnecessary, but moderation is required. Reducing the amount of electronic stimulation helps develop the child's social skills because of more face-to-face interaction. In addition, it increases the chance of improving your child's health from less time spent sitting down. Follow President George Bush's cheeky advice when he said, "They put an off button on the TV for a reason. Turn it off."

While the 21st century may hurt a child’s listening skills, you can help your little one overcome communication difficulties presented by the modern world. Help your children acquire vital communication skills most adults fail to develop. Teach your child listening skills today to improve your family’s togetherness and provide the child with foundational communication skills that last a lifetime.

Author's Bio: 

Find out how to improve listening skills and other communication skills by signing-up to Joshua Uebergang's free listening skills eNewsletter at TowerOfPower.com.au/free.