Modern communication tools are often considered responsible for many
shortcomings in the field of human relations in present society.
Of course, these means have limits and, if there is no balance in those who
use them, they can actually become dangerous, even leading to
It is good, however, from time to time, to shift the attention from the
objects to those who use them, to remind us that we are always responsible
for what we do and not the things we possess.
As for education in the field of communication, as a mother and researcher
in this field, I believe that we are not “condemned” to raise robot
children, unable to take their eyes off an i-Pad, unable to think and
really love, just because “this is the world they are in.”
The ability to communicate authentically arises in the family
As far as Social Networks can contribute to squashing feelings, inhibiting
dialogue, understanding, and analysis, it is what is sown in the hearts and
minds of the youth that makes the difference.
I like to think that, today, just as yesterday and as will be tomorrow, a
cautious family can make up for the socio-cultural deficits that it finds
itself having to deal with.
I like to think that communicating in a fully human way with children and
teenagers can also lead them to do so, regardless of the TV in the living
A personal communication – in the literal sense of the term – occurs when
one recognizes in the other a “you” to meet and bring out. But such a
relationship, an “I-you” relationship, rather than “I-it” – to quote the
philosopher Martin Buber – is built much more easily if you have been
treated as “you” first, always, that is since from small.
Then I would like to propose three aspects of communication which, in my
opinion, should not be lacking in the family, if we want to educate
children about “real,” sincere, and profound relationships.
Look at the other carefully
If many kids don’t know how to “look at others” it’s not just because they
are blinded by their phones, but also – and perhaps above all – because
they weren’t the first to be looked at. Indeed, it is possible that,
precisely because they do not know how to relate to each other, they flee
it, hiding behind a keyboard.
If children do not value the beauty of others, perhaps it is because, as
the writer Alessandro D’Avenia maintains, nobody has yet seen and shown
them the beauty that is within them.
Every educator, especially the parent, is called, then, to do this:to look deeply into the lives of children,to pay attention to everything, to the details, to the expression on his or her face. The
educator is called to observe what the child loves or does not like, what
causes him joy and pain. He is called to show him his or her own beauty.
All this implies putting the child at the center and not at the margins of
one’s life, knowing that whoever is treated “as a person,”
who feels important to someone, will learn to treat others as people,
regardless of whether or not he has a cell phone in his pocket.
Proximity and openness to listening
Self-centeredness and vanity reign supreme
in our society. We talk, we tell, we show ourselves off more than we care
about others. The various
social networks and TV channels bring us to favor these attitudes:
through them it is easier to perform than to offer oneself to others.
And yet, if communication tools had the power to automatically close the
ears and hearts of those who use them, then we would have to say that all
those who use them are dull and narcissistic, self-centered and insensitive
to others. And yet, it isn’t necessarily this way.
The ability or inability to get close to the other does not come from
the social networks
: it has to do with something deeper. They have to do with our emotional maturity, with our inner life.
And the family has a very important role in educating on proximity
– without which there is no authentically human communication.
One way to promote proximity is
to undertake and encourage a willingness to listen
. As educators and parents we should set an example, listening twice as much as we speak (as the Greek
philosopher Zeno of Citium, 4th century BC says, we have two ears and one
mouth precisely for this reason).
If, in the family, you learn to listen and take an interest in others,
Instagram or Facebook will certainly not make you lose these precious
Educate yourself and educate others about empathy
How many times on social media do we read frivolous or scornful comments, full of clichés and hatred
? How often do we notice insensitivity and superficiality
in regarding the lives of others?
“Social networks have made us cynical and ruthless,” some say.
Certainly, it does not help to spend hours and hours in front of a screen
talking to or about people perceived to be so distant as to become almost
unreal, but the deeper reason why “you shoot at point blank” others, their
actions, their problems is that a healthy education in empathy has been lacking.
To return to the concept of Buber, the other is not something, but
rather a “you,” with its own story, wounds, sufferings, and difficulties.
To educate oneself and educate about empathy means to ask oneself about
the why behind the actions of the other
, try to put oneself in his shoes, ask oneself what he feels and how to
help him, instead of condemning.
Teaching a child to ask himself what is on his mind and in the heart of
another is a great start.
Empathy must be experienced first of all in the family:
it is not irrelevant whether a child’s tears are dried or not, if asked how
he is, how he gets along with his companions, if something makes him
suffer, why he made a certain gesture.
A child or young person who has experienced empathy for himself will be
more inclined to empathize
The purpose of this article is not to commend the new communication tools,
nor, even less, to exonerate them from all the troubles attributed to them.
We know that they
can actually be problematic and risky,
especially for “unripe” young people, who are subject to rebellion and
What we wanted was just to focus on the importance of an education that starts “from within”
and that aims to develop the ability to communicate in a fully human way,
regardless of the tools used.
Social networks can complicate the work of the educator, but they must
not become an
or the scapegoat, in order to not admit educational and affective
deficiencies that do not depend on them.