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Chat Time 48 Is the Internet killing communication ‘Otaku’ has become a new term describing those who have poor social skills and prefer to be alone. Regardless of their differences in hobbies and interests, they always have one thing in common: being addicted to the Internet. From ICQ to MSN, from personal webpages to Facebook, social networking tools with different appearances seem to simply gather more people without getting them to engage in real communication. In addition, linguists and sociologists both claim that all this ‘behind the screen’ communication is not natural and is against human nature. For instance, do you think the phrase ‘I love you’ on the computer monitor can mean the same as one spoken to you face-to-face? Of course, few people today still have the patience to post and receive letters, while the Internet can do all this within a second. We have to remember that communication is actually more than passing on a message. It includes conveying and expressing our emotional feelings and love, which some may say can’t be achieved without body language and intonation to have real meaning. Questions 1. How do young people nowadays use the Internet to communicate with each other? Young people nowadays seem to communicate with their peers more electronically than face to face. They chat with their friends through instant messaging, social network sites such as Facebook and email. 2. Does the Internet improve or kill communication? We cannot deny that the Internet has made communication more powerful and more efficient than ever before. But electronic communications lack personal forms of communication like conveying and expressing our emotional feelings and love. People tend to keep away from face-to-face communication. In this sense, the Internet kills rather than improve communication. 3. What advice should be given to students on using the Internet? We should tell students to be aware of the dangers of the Internet and should not give out personal information. They should never open, read or respond to messages from unknown sources. If they are not careful, they might suffer financial loss, identity theft or hacker attacks. Individual Response 1. Do you think young people spend too much time on the Internet? It’s true that young people spend too much time on the Internet. They are filling their free time with internet activities like social networking, instant messaging, blogging and playing games. It’s become a major part of their lives. 2. Why are some teenagers so addicted to the Internet? Firstly, there are many entertainment sites which can keep teenagers entertained for hours. Then, some teenagers are under pressure in life or schoolwork, they hope to escape from the reality or release their emotions in cyberspace. Lastly, some teenagers who have trouble connecting face to face may depend on the Internet as a place where they feel understood by their peers and use it as a replacement for social interaction. 3. Do you think it is a good way for parents to keep in touch with their children through the Internet? The best way for parents to keep in touch with their children is through frequent face-to-face conversations. But it is also a good way to use social networking sites such as Facebook to communicate with children and have updates on what they are getting up to especially when parents are away from home. 4. How do mobile phones create a nuisance in our daily life? Mobile phones are becoming a nuisance for us. Our daily life is frequently disrupted by unwanted marketing calls and texts from companies selling us products we don’t want. We are also disturbed by people talking and laughing loudly on the phone. Lastly, loud ringtones also create a nuisance in public places. 5. How have social networking tools, like Facebook, changed our life? Social networking tools have changed the way people interact. Networking tools, like Facebook and Google allow people to communicate and share information more easily and quickly. But as people spend increasing amounts of time on social networks, they experience less face-to-face interaction, thus creating social isolation. Hyper-networking also creates problems like depression, drug abuse, poor sleep patterns and poor academic performance.