Classroom - Rationale

Empathy and Technology

Empathy is a high touch skill requiring face-to-face interactions and communication through verbal as well as non-verbal actions and cues. Communications from a distance, through chat based applications, text messaging, social networking websites for example, offer users flexibility and accessibility as well as anonymity. The growth of these communications poses a challenge to developing an empathetic relationship with the other person. All communications of feelings become text based and linear, with the ability to say things without the filter of being known.


toddler on the phone


Examples of the consequences of communicating with a lack of empathy through technology have emerged in high profile and tragic cases in the suicides of both Abraham Biggs, and Megan Meier. These extreme examples highlight the need for educators to teach students about how to communicate empathically from a distance, and cyber-bullying. Showing students how words can hurt those around them, creating an open dialogue about what the students are doing online, and learning about the risks associated with the use of social networking sites like MySpace, can all work to give students the tools to communicate their feelings through the internet. These are issues that cannot be ignored by educators, learning to communicate effectively through this medium adds a skill that students may use in their jobs as companies turn to web conferencing applications to hold meetings and spread information through the company.


sad girl



On the other hand providing ways to use technology positively through communication and creating digital media to communicate emotions and feelings can actually add to a student’s ability to communicate and understand in various “forms of representation.” Expressing care from a distance is something that humans are just learning to do, and it presents challenges for educators and students alike, but the need to address this challenge by building our empathic skills is only greater as our dependence on technology grows.